One thing is certain in the National League West — and one uncertainty is becoming a major concern for the San Diego Padres.
The first-place Giants, who go for a three-game series sweep of the Padres on Sunday in San Francisco, are for real.
But the uncertainty? The state of San Diego pitching.
And the rotation problems soon could mean great stress for the bullpen as the Padres — who essentially could have another “bullpen” day Sunday before going to Coors Field for three games against the Colorado Rockies starting Monday.
Padres relievers already have worked 147 innings. And through 34 games, “TBA” has started more games than any other Padres pitcher.
Again Sunday, the Padres starter is officially “TBA,” although late Saturday it was looking like Sunday’s game could be a match of two right-handers coming off the injury list.
Although the list of Padres potential starters includes Ryan Weathers, Dinelson Lamet and Miguel Diaz, it appears right-hander Chris Paddack (1-3, 5.40 ERA) will be activated from the injured list to face the Giants. The 25-year-old Paddack, who will be facing the Giants for the first time this season, last pitched on April 27 in Arizona when he gave up five runs (three earned) on six hits in 5 1/3 innings.
He was placed in the IL for “medical reasons.”
The Giants are countering with Johnny Cueto (2-0, 1.80), who will be making his first start since April 14. He has been on the injured list with a strained lat muscle. The 35-year-old will be making his fourth start and first against the Padres on the season. He has allowed four runs on 13 hits and four walks with 18 strikeouts in 20 innings.
Cueto has an 8-6 career record against the Padres with a 3.71 ERA in 18 starts. He has struck out 110 Padres in 116 1/3 innings.
Paddack, who has struggled to develop a third pitch to go with his fastball-changeup combination, has been charged with 19 runs (14 earned) on 25 hits and seven walks with 22 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings over five starts this season. In six career starts against the Giants, Paddack is 1-1 with a 4.23 ERA, and has struck out 34 in 27 2/3 innings.
But the bigger question for the Padres might be their struggling offense. The Padres have had 12 hits in the first two games of the series and have been outscored 12-5 by the Giants. The Giants have hit five homers in the first two games, accounting for nine of their runs.
“For whatever reason, we’re not hitting the fastball the way we need to, the way we are capable of,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said after Saturday’s loss. “What do we need to do to be better? We have to figure that out.”
Meanwhile, Giants manager Gabe Kapler is very happy with how his Giants are playing. They have the best record in the National League.
“We’ve done a nice job competing with the Padres,” Kapler said after Saturday’s win. “That’s a good team, so it is gratifying to play them tough. But the goal is to win games.”
–Field Level Media