The San Diego Padres have overcome a six-game losing streak to start up a three-game winning streak and are fresh off a two-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners.
Now, the team will travel to Nationals Park for a three-game series against the Washington Nationals. The fourth-place Nats have struggled early in the season as they sit in fourth place and have dropped four of their last six game games. Washington has also lost their last two series against the Miami Marlins and the Colorado Rockies.
The Padres have their work cut out for them as they face the top two pitchers in the Nationals rotation, but San Diego should have smoother sailing if they knock them out of the game and get to the bullpen that has been a weak point for Washington during the season.
Here is a series preview for the three-game series.
In three starts since he initially got blown up by the Diamondbacks, Strahm has been nothing but consistent. In the 18 innings, he has pitched after his 2019 debut, Strahm has only allowed three runs and struck out 11 batters. More importantly, he hasn’t walked a batter since April 7. His last start was the longest a Padre starting pitcher, going eight innings against the Cincinnati Reds while allowing one run and striking out five, but he didn’t factor into the decision. However, an average fastball of 91 MPH doesn’t bode well for the future, but if he can keep his pinpoint control, Strahm can remain in the rotation.
For those who don’t know who Scherzer is, he is the ace of the Nationals staff and is currently second in the Majors in strikeouts with 44, two behind Houston’s Justin Verlander. However, Mad Max has looked a lot tamer as of late, as, in his last three games, he has allowed 14 runs on 26 hits in 19.2 innings. The strikeout numbers have remained consistent, punching out 23 batters and walking just one during that stretch.
The three-time Cy Young award winner is slightly hobbled due to an unusual injury he suffered while dodging a foul ball, tweaking his left intercostal muscle in his chest. It won’t keep him out of the game, but it is a small chink in Scherzer’s armor that San Diego can take advantage of.
The second-year “veteran” Lauer takes his sixth turn in the rotation after absorbing the loss in his previous start against the Reds. While Lauer has gone at least five innings in every start, he has allowed at least three runs in each of his starts after shutting out the Giants for six innings on Opening Day. Lauer’s strikeout numbers are good for the past three starts, striking out 18 while walking five batters. The Nationals have hit lefties hard so far this season, collecting a .304/.374/.516 batting line as a team, which is something to keep in mind when Lauer takes the mound.
Strasburg, the former star of SDSU, has been rather hit or miss this season. In three of his starts, he has allowed four or more starts but, on the other hand, he has been lights out in his other two starts, pitching 14.2 shutout innings and striking out 20. He looked like more of the latter in his last start against the Marlins, only allowing two hits in eight innings while striking out 11. He has had plenty of success against the Padres with a career record of 7-2 with a 3.05 ERA
Don’t let Lucchesi’s high ERA fool you, as his numbers attest that he has had a much better start to the season from an analytical standpoint. A FIP of 2.93, xFIP of 3.23, and SIERRA of 3.73 indicate that Lucchesi is bound to see that ERA drop at some point. After two poor starts where he allowed 12 runs in 11 innings, Joey Fuego looked up to form against the Reds as he only allowed a single run through 5.2 innings on five hits while striking out a season-high eight batters. Much of that success came thanks to better location of the churve he has thrown. He’ll need that location to succeed against the Nats in the series finale.
Back with the Nats on a one-year deal, Hellickson was off to a good start to his season until a visit to Coors Field roughed him up something good. In five innings, he got hit hard for nine hits and five runs, including a two-run home run to Mark Reynolds. Hellickson only faced San Diego twice last season and carried a 0.75 ERA through 12 innings, but that number is set to change with the recent additions to the Padres offense.
Players to Watch
San Diego: Fernando Tatis Jr.
If you haven’t heard, the Padres star prospect has been doing nothing but produce since getting called up to the Majors. His 12-game hitting streak stretched back to April 11, and he has gone 17-for-45 (.377) during it, while his WAR is already at a 1.0. For reference, the Padres single-season WAR for a shortstop is 4.0, set by Ozzie Smith. The rookie’s game-changing skills will be put to the test against two of the top pitchers in the league, but his combination of speed and power at the top of the lineup will provide an interesting battle at the plate between the seasoned veterans of the Nationals rotation and the hotshot talent of Tatis.
Washington: Victor Robles
Over the past seven games, Robles has done nothing but hit, going 9-for-30 with three RBI and three doubles and has been one of the bright spots in a Nationals lineup that has struggled to score runs at times. With Anthony Rendon’s status still foggy, Robles will have to help pick up the slack if the third baseman is unavailable for the series.