The San Diego Padres go for a third straight win in Milwaukee on Thursday afternoon.
Success would give the National League West leaders a 15th win in the last 17 games.
But the result of one game is secondary to what the Padres will be doing Thursday as well as Friday night in Houston.
Left-hander Ryan Weathers (2-1, 1.48 ERA) takes the mound for the Padres in the finale of a four-game series in Milwaukee against suddenly struggling right-hander Adrian Houser (3-5, 4.53 ERA). Dinelson Lamet (1-0, 1.64 ERA) will make the start for San Diego on Friday.
Weathers and Lamet going back-to-back officially starts the Padres’ plan to go to a six-man rotation during a run of 20 straight games and 33 in 34 days. The problem is that Weathers hasn’t pitched more than four innings since going a season-best 5 2/3 innings on April 22. And Lamet pitched three innings in relief last Saturday in the longest of his five outings.
“Our No. 1 priority is protecting Lamet and Weathers,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said recently. “Lamet’s health is very important to us. And Weathers is not going to pitch 180 innings this season.”
The Padres have been working to limit Weathers’ innings since the 21-year-old had a bout of “tired arm” in April. And Lamet has been slowly strengthening his elbow since he was forced out of the playoffs last fall.
Both have exceptional tools. Neither is likely to pitch past the fifth, which means the next two games — even if Weathers and Lamet are sharp — become quasi-bullpen days. Long relievers like Miguel Diaz and Craig Stammen could become crucial.
Weathers, who will be facing the Brewers for the first time, has made 10 appearances in his rookie season with five starts. In 30 1/3 innings, Weathers has given up five runs on 19 hits and nine walks for an 0.923 WHIP and a .179 opponents’ batting average.
Houser, 28, will be making his 10th start this season on Thursday and his second against the Padres. He allowed two runs on five hits and two walks with two strikeouts when the Brewers swept a three-game series in San Diego last month.
After his first seven starts this season, Houser was 3-3 with a 3.44 ERA. In his last two starts, he is 0-2 and gave up eight runs on seven hits and nine walks with seven strikeouts in just seven innings. The Brewers gave him an extra day’s rest before this appearance.
“His velocity has been good,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said recently of Houser. “He hasn’t been having big misses, but he has had trouble throwing strikes.”
On the season, the 6-foot-3, 222-pound Houser has given up 25 runs (22 earned) on 41 hits and 20 walks with 38 strikeouts in 43 2/3 innings. He has a 1.397 WHIP and a .252 opponents’ batting average.
In back-to-back losses to the Padres on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Brewers scored two runs on seven hits in 19 innings. They’ve drawn two walks against 21 strikeouts.
“We’ve had some frustrating games offensively,” said Counsell.
The Brewers rank last in the National League with a .209 team batting average and a .295 on-base percentage. They rank 14th in the National League strikeouts with 490 and a .648 OPS.
–Field Level Media