Padres Travel North of the Border to Face Blue Jays

Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Padres are coming off of a winning homestand at 4-3 and find themselves two games above .500 as they head to Toronto to face the Blue Jays. 

San Diego is coming off of their first three-game sweep of the season as they swept the Diamondbacks before leaving town. The Friars (26-24) now play the Toronto Blue Jays north of the border at the Rogers Centre. The Padres have not played in Toronto since 2016 when they lost the series two games to one to the Jays.

The Blue Jays (20-30) are in fourth place in the mighty AL East division and have lost two straight and lost a four-game series to the Red Sox at home, three games to one. The Jays come into this game likely fatigued as they played 13 innings against Boston on Wednesday. They had to play a game yesterday as well, while the Padres were off. This should play into the Padres’ favor.

The Padres will get to use the designated hitter in their lineup for the first time this season, with a native Canadian perhaps in that slot.

Game 1: Friday, May 24, 4:07 PM PDT – Joey Lucchesi (3-3, 4.28 ERA) vs. Trent Thornton (1-4, 4.41 ERA)

Lucchesi is coming off of one of the best starts of his season, going seven innings against the Pirates, striking out six without a walk. He looks to buck the trend of being off of his game on the road, as he has a 8.10 ERA in three starts on the road this season. However, his last road start was in the lofty air of Colorado, and he allowed just one run in 5 1/3 innings. The advantage Lucchesi has is that there is not a single Blue Jays player that has a plate appearance against him.

Credit: Chihuahuas

Thornton is making his 11th career start; all have come this season. He has a 99 ERA+, which is almost exactly average. He is coming off of one of his best starts, going six innings while allowing just one run against the White Sox. Thornton was a fifth-round pick by the Houston Astros in 2015 and came over to Toronto before this season in the trade that sent Aledmys Diaz to Houston. His home and road splits are the reverse of Lucchesi’s as he has struggled at the Rogers Centre to the tune of a 6.75 ERA and six home runs allowed in five starts.

Game 2: Saturday, May 25, 12:07 PM PDT – Cal Quantrill (0-2, 5.40 ERA) vs. Edwin Jackson (0-1, 6.30 ERA) 

Even though the big story is the Padres reportedly calling up Canada native Josh Naylor to make his major league debut in his home country, don’t forget about Quantrill, the Ontario native also coming home. He has had a bumpy start to his big league career as he allowed five earned runs in five innings in a loss to the Pirates last weekend. However, his FIP is 3.82 compared to his 5.40 ERA, meaning he has also experienced a string of bad luck that should even out. Perhaps facing the worst batting team in the major leagues will do the trick, as the Blue Jays bat .218 as a team.

Former Padre and really, former just-about-everything Edwin Jackson makes his third start for Toronto. His last start did not go according to plan as the Red Sox touched him up for five runs and seven hits in five innings. Jackson has been pitching in the big leagues since 2003. He was an All-Star in 2009 with the Tigers and a World Series champion with the Cardinals in 2011. He had a resurgent season last year with the Oakland A’s with a 3.33 ERA and 124 ERA+ in 17 starts. Naturally, he has faced many of the Padres hitters, Ian Kinsler has seen him the most, going 8-for-22 (.364) with two home runs.

Game 3: Sunday, May 26, 10:07 AM PDT – Chris Paddack (4-2, 1.93 ERA) vs. Marcus Stroman (2-6, 2.81 ERA)

This will be one of the marquee pitching matchups of the weekend anywhere in baseball. Paddack seems to have a knack for being paired up with the game’s best pitchers as he has already dueled Jacob deGrom and Clayton Kershaw. Paddack is fresh off of his bounce-back start where he went six innings and allowed just one run while striking out seven without a walk. He was back to his normal, dominant self after a hiccup against the Dodgers. He continues to be one of the most talked-about young pitchers in the game and is currently in first place in the MLB.com writer’s poll for N.L. Rookie of the Year. He owns a 2.75 ERA in four road starts this season.

Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Stroman is one of the most interesting pitchers in the game, full of personality and flair as well as good stuff on the mound. Ignore the six losses on his record; he has pitched very well, with a 155 ERA+, which is higher than the likes of Zack Greinke, Stephen Strasburg, and Trevor Bauer. In his last two starts, he has allowed just one run in six innings in each. Last season was a bit rough for him, but in 2017, he finished eighth in Cy Young voting after posting a 3.09 ERA in 201 innings pitched. He and Manny Machado have had some epic duels, and the numbers show Stroman wins more than his fair share, as Machado is batting .182 with a 538 OPS in 23 plate appearances against Stroman, with one home run. Eric Hosmer is 5-for-15 against him.

Players to Watch

Josh Naylor

Of course, the main story of the weekend for San Diego is the reported promotion of their ninth-ranked prospect Naylor from El Paso. He was batting .299 with ten home runs with a .916 OPS in Triple-A this season. He spent most of his time in the outfield with Hosmer blocking his path at first base. However, he will likely be the designated hitter this weekend in his native country of Canada. This will be a cool moment for the Ontario native.

Manny Machado

Machado got very familiar with the AL East and its ballparks in his six and a half seasons with the Baltimore Orioles. The Rogers Centre is where Machado has his third-most plate appearances of any ballpark and where he hits .241 with six home runs and a .727 OPS, less than impressive numbers. Familiarity can be a good or bad thing but either way, Machado comes into this series most familiar with this setting of any Padre.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

It’s a crying shame that Fernando Tatis Jr. will not be joining the Padres for this series because the matchup of the number one and two overall prospects would’ve brought all sorts of intrigue. Alas, that stage will be Vlad Jr.’s alone this weekend. After a very slow start, Guerrero is starting to figure things out. He is hitting .300 with five home runs, a 1.049 OPS and 173 wRC+ since Mother’s Day. The kid has the purest power of any prospect in recent memory, and he is starting to show it as he gets his bearings in the big leagues.

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Nick Lee
Native of Escondido, CA. Lived in San Diego area for 20 years. Padres fan since childhood (mid-90s). I have been writing since 2014. I currently live near Seattle, WA and am married to a Seattle sports girl. I wore #19 on my high school baseball team for Tony Gwynn. I am a stats and sports history nerd. I attended BYU on the Idaho campus. I also love Star Wars.

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