On a fair amount of teams, left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu would be considered the ace of the staff. On the Dodgers, he's simply their third best pitcher. But that doesn't make them any less ecstatic to have him back.
Ryu left his start on Aug. 13 with a strained right gluteus muscle and was then placed on the disabled list in short order. The injury was never considered too serious, though, and now Ryu will be making his return on his first eligible day without a rehab start.
In 19 innings this season, Ryu has limited the Padres to just one run. Before the injury, Ryu had also struck out 39 in his last 38 2/3 innings overall compared with just six walks over that span.
Ryu's return also allows the Dodgers to bump right-hander Roberto Hernandez to Monday for the start of a series against the Nationals that could go a long way in determining the National League's top team. Hernandez has only surrendered one unearned run in 15 innings versus the Nationals this season
In the other corner is Padres' left-hander Eric Stults, who hasn't had the smoothest of seasons despite playing half his games in Petco Park.
But one thing is for certain, August has been a whole lot kinder to the veteran than any other month of the season.
Stults takes a 3-1 record and a 2.43 ERA in five starts this month into this start against the Dodgers on, fittingly, the final day of August.
The three wins are the most he's had in a single month and the 2.43 ERA is his best mark of the season by far. His previous best was a 4.50 ERA in the month of May.
He pitched through his struggles and worked on a few mechanical things to get himself right.
"If I was younger, it might have affected me more," Stults said recently. "But I've seen guys go through ups and downs. I knew that as long as I wasn't physically hurt, I had to think things would turn around."
And now he'll face the Dodgers, a team he's had success against, going 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts.
"The last few years he's learned how to feed off our hitters' aggressiveness. He never gives in. He's not afraid to throw any pitch in any count," said Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis, who was a teammate of Stults coming through the Dodgers' Minor League system.
"I'm impressed with the way he controls his tempo. He used to be maximum effort every pitch. Now he's free and easy, so he can reach back when he wants to throw a fastball. He's pitching with a lot of confidence."
Dodgers: Big names expected back Monday
September's roster expansion couldn't come at a better time for the Dodgers, who are expecting a handful of key players back over the next few days.
Beyond activating left-hander Ryu for Sunday's start, third baseman Juan Uribe seems fully recovered from his hamstring injury and could be activated either Sunday or Monday.
Right-hander Chris Perez, who has been out since Aug. 4 with bone spurs in his right ankle, will also be activated Monday, according to Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.
As for the youngsters, Mattingly hasn't fully showed his hand on which Minor Leaguers the Dodgers will bring up. But there are few players more worthy of a promotion than outfielder Joc Peterson and Mattingly confirmed as much by saying Saturday he's "one guy that deserves to get called up."
Padres: Walk-it Off
With Yasmani Grandal's walk-off single in the 12th inning Friday, the Padres have now won in walk-off fashion in consecutive games for the third time this season, having also done so Aug. 2 and 3 against the Braves and May 4 and 5 against the D-backs and the Royals. This is the first time in franchise history they've won consecutive games in walk-off fashion three different times in one season.
The last Major League team to win on walk-offs three or more times in a single season was the 2008 Giants, who did so four times.
Prior to this season, the last time the Padres had walk-off wins in consecutive games even once in a season was Aug. 3 and 4, 2007, against the Giants.
The Padres now have nine walk-off wins this season, tied for the fourth-most in the Major Leagues. Since the start of the 2005 season, the Padres have 86 walk-off wins, the most in Major League Baseball in that time.
• Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez was a late addition to the lineup card Saturday after leaving Friday's game early with a left leg injury. He finished 0-for-5.
• The Padres placed infielder Chris Nelson on the paternity leave list Saturday and replaced him on the active roster with right-hander Jesse Hahn.
Cody Ulm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.