The San Diego Padres will play a Game 3 on Friday against the Cardinals. But who is going to start on the mound for the Padres?
In a game reminiscent of a heavyweight title fight, the San Diego Padres came back off the canvas to earn an 11-9 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
According to San Diego manager Jayce Tingler, all hands were on deck for the Padres, as the team’s starting pitcher once again failed to pitch more than three innings. The patient Cardinals lineup roughed up Zach Davies to the tune of four earned runs in just two innings of work. Davies’ brief outing came only one day after Chris Paddack failed to make it out of the third inning in his first playoff start.
Thankfully for San Diego, however, the bullpen was once again up for the task on Thursday evening. Eight different pitchers recorded the final 21 outs, allowing only three earned runs (five in total). The crew bent a few times but failed to break in a game that the Cardinals did not give away easily.
Staring down a bullpen game in Game 3, the current pitching scenario may not be ideal for the Padres, but the team does have options.
Richards pitched on Thursday, but only threw three pitches in 1/3 of an inning. The veteran right-hander can go deep into games for the team, but it is unclear if he will be at full effectiveness tomorrow, given that he did warm up extensively and pitch in the contest on Thursday. Richards also pitched on Wednesday, throwing ten pitches in a scoreless inning of relief. Throwing in three straight games seems unlikely for Richards. He may be lobbying for the ball, but the Padres can hardly take any chances with their season on the line tomorrow.
The young lefty threw 23 pitches in Thursday’s game and would not be able to go further than an inning or two on Friday — if he could even go that far. Morejon’s improved demeanor on the mound is something to note as the pitcher begins to mature. It would be interesting to see the 21-year-old Cuban toe the rubber in such a meaningful game, but he is still very young, and thrusting him into a high-leverage situation this late into the season might not be worth the risk of injury as his cumulative pitch count climbs. Morejon may pitch on Friday, but a start seems unlikely at this point.
Gore starting Game 3 probably represents a dream scenario for Padres fans, one in which where the team’s No. 1 prospect makes his major league debut in the playoffs and guides San Diego to the next round. While this possibility remains enticing, there are some significant roadblocks to this situation. First, Gore is on the Padres’ “Taxi Squad,” meaning he would need to be added to the Major League roster to be eligible to pitch. That would entail a challenging, but not impossible set of maneuvers for General Manager AJ Preller and company. The second, and perhaps most pressing issue with this potential plan is that Gore has not seen any real action this year, and putting him in a position to fail on the game’s highest stage could prove to be very risky to his development. There is little doubt that Gore could handle the moment, but it might not be fair to subject a young phenom to that level of pressure in such a short season.
Patino is the most likely option to start for the team on Friday. The 20-year-old throws gas and will surely be on a short leash. He may only make it through the lineup once if he pitches in Game 3, but if he can go four or five innings, the Padres will be ecstatic. A more likely situation is that the St. Louis offense makes him work and raises his pitch count, inducing a bullpen game early for San Diego. If that occurs, the Padres will have the arms to compete. Regardless of how many innings he may throw tomorrow, Patino is full of energy, and is and young enough to potentially shock the Cardinals on Friday.
No matter who starts the game for San Diego, expect them to be on a very short leash.
You could see some of the Padres’ higher-leverage relievers pitch multiple innings tomorrow depending on their respective workloads and pitch counts. As manager Jayce Tingler said, all hands are on deck for the San Diego Padres in Game 3 against the Cardinals. If the team wants to eat cake, they will need to dispatch St. Louis.