Is May 21 too soon to be watching the scoreboard in a full, 162-game baseball season?
Because the San Diego Padres might also be taking a peek at what is happening up the coast this weekend as they host the Seattle Mariners.
The Padres have already played 16 games against the teams surrounding them atop the National League West standings. They are 4-3 against the reigning world champion Dodgers and 4-5 against the division-leading Giants.
But the Dodgers and Giants haven’t faced each other … until this weekend. And they will be meeting seven times over the next 10 days.
Meanwhile, the Padres, who have gotten some sensational pitching during a six-game winning streak — and a 9-1 run over a 10-game stretch that saw them playing without four starters — host a Mariners team that is still reeling from being no-hit for a second time this season and hitting .198 as a team.
Plus, the Padres are getting healthier. Three regulars down due to Major League Baseball’s COVID-19 protocol — Fernando Tatis Jr. (who was 4-for-4 with two doubles, a homer and two RBIs in his return game Wednesday), Eric Hosmer and Jurickson Profar — have returned to action, and Wil Myers is expected back this weekend.
And the Mariners are not getting healthier. “The injury bug has hit us hard and won’t go away,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said.
The three-game Padres-Mariners series opens Friday night with a match of right-handers named Chris — Flexen (4-1, 3.46 ERA) for Seattle and Paddack (1-3, 4.45 ERA) for the Padres.
But while the Padres are riding some momentum — “We’ve been playing well and we just want to keep it rolling,” San Diego manager Jayce Tingler said Wednesday — the Mariners have lost three straight and eight of their past 11.
When the Mariners were no-hit for the second time this season by the Tigers’ Spencer Turnbull, the Seattle lineup had five hitters batting .192 or lower. By the end of Wednesday’s game, the count was five at .180 or lower.
“We’ve got to get back to using the entire field,” Servais says of his hitters. “That allows you to stay on a few more balls and, hopefully, not roll over on so many pitches or pop up so many pitches. I’ve been in baseball a long time, and when you are struggling, that foundation is the base that you go back to and where we need to go.”
Meanwhile, Padres pitchers put up some impressive numbers in the three-game sweep of Colorado. Over 28 innings, Padres pitchers gave up one run on 12 hits and four walks with 44 strikeouts. That is a 0.32 earned run average, a 0.571 WHIP, a 14.1 strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate, an 11-1 strike-out-to-walk ratio and a .125 (12-for-96) opponents’ batting average.
Paddack, 25, hasn’t been as sharp as some others in the Padres rotation and has pitched just seven innings in two starts since returning from the “medical” injury list. But he has allowed only one run on seven hits and two walks with six strikeouts in those two outings. Paddack has a 2-1 career record against the Mariners with a 3.00 ERA, a 0.78 WHIP and a .159 OBA — giving up 10 hits with 19 strikeouts in 18 innings.
Flexen, 26, returned from a year in Korea as a much different pitcher when it comes to command. He has issued 1.8 walks per nine innings in seven starts this year compared to 7.1 walks per nine innings in parts of three seasons with the Mets before going overseas. He has a 1.359 WHIP this season and has given up 45 hits in 39 innings. He lost his only previous start against the Padres, giving up four runs (three earned) in three innings.
–Field Level Media