The Padres will go for a series win Sunday afternoon in San Diego. The New York Mets will be seeking a split of the four-game set.
And Padres right-hander Chris Paddack and Mets first baseman Pete Alonso likely will meet in a rematch of one of the stranger showdowns of the 2019 season.
A quick flashback …
It’s the early days of May 2019, and Alonso has just been named the National League Rookie of the Month for April. His credentials: nine home runs and 23 RBIs in the season’s first full month. But fellow rookie Paddack had a 1.93 earned run average in April — and also felt deserving of the Rookie of the Month honor.
So, as Paddack and the Padres prepared to face the Mets in early May, Paddack, who seems to be at his best when a chip is firmly planted on his shoulder, spoke out.
First, Paddack said Alonso deserved the Rookie of the Month award. Then he said: “But I’m coming for him. We’ll see Monday who the top dog is.”
And, as it turned out, it was Paddack, who twice struck out Alonso when they met on May 6. Paddack also got the 4-0 victory, besting Jacob deGrom.
“Do I wish it was me? Yeah,” Paddack said of the Rookie of the Month award. “But the way I look at it is, do you want to be Rookie of the Month or Rookie of the Year? We’ll see, man.”
Well, as we all know by now, Alonso was the National League Rookie of the Year in 2019. And after a strong rookie season, Paddack took some steps backward in 2020 and earlier this season.
Now, however, Paddack (2-4, 4.24 ERA) seems to be regaining some of his success and swagger as he prepares to take on the Mets, Marcus Stroman (4-4, 2.66) and Alonso Sunday in the finale of the four-game series.
According to Padres manager Jayce Tingler, the only thing that counts is winning series and holding serve on the Padres home turf. The Padres saw their franchise-record, 12-game home winning streak end Saturday night because no one beats deGrom these days.
“We got beat by a great pitcher tonight,” Tingler said after the Padres were deGrommed. “But the thing is to move on, win series and go day-to-day.”
And Paddack, 25, was pitching well until his most recent start at Wrigley Field, where he gave up five runs on three homers in a span of 4 1/3 innings on Monday and took the loss in the 7-2 game. Before that, Paddack had allowed three runs on 12 hits and four walks with 14 strikeouts in 19 innings for a 1.42 ERA in his previous four starts. The Padres won all four of those games.
Meanwhile, the 30-year-old Stroman, who opted out of the 2020 season, has worked 64 1/3 innings in 11 starts this season, giving up 24 runs (19 earned) on 55 hits and 13 walks with 52 strikeouts. In his career, he is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in two starts against the Padres.
Paddack is 1-1 (2.13 ERA) in two starts against the Mets and Alonso, who is 2-for-10 in the series.
Alonso, recently off the disabled list because of a sprained right hand, didn’t start Thursday’s game but should be in the starting lineup Sunday.
“He didn’t have a rehab assignment and he played three days in a row, one of those being an extra-inning game,” said Mets manager Luis Rojas about Alonso’s role on Thursday. “We just gotta give him the day off.”
–Field Level Media