The Padres head home after a topsy-turvy road trip that saw them go 2-3, first being swept by the Pirates before sweeping the Orioles in two games in Baltimore.
The Padres are .500 at 40-40, the latest in the season they have been at .500 since 2013.
The Cardinals started the season 19-10 but have floundered ever since, with a 9-18 record in May and 12-11 in June. They have lost three straight, including being swept in a two-game series at home to the Oakland Athletics. St. Louis has struggled to find consistent offense, ranking 23rd in the league in team batting and 21st in runs scored.
St. Louis was also dealt a disheartening blow with the recent news that their flame-throwing young closer Jordan Hicks tore his UCL and underwent Tommy John surgery this past week. Hicks most likely will not pitch again until at best mid-season in 2020.
The Padres come into this series no less healthy than they were on the road trip. The winner of this series will come out above .500.
Lauer is coming off of one of his best starts of the season, going seven innings while allowing one earned run in a tough loss against Pittsburgh. He has allowed one run in five of his last seven starts and is making his first career start against the Cardinals.
Wacha has just been recently inserted back into the starting rotation after a few appearances as a reliever. This is his seventh year with the Cards and he has struggled to find his groove, with an ERA+ of 76 and almost five walks per nine innings. which is the second-worst in all of baseball. He has shown promise in his last three starts, posting a 3.38 ERA since his return to the rotation. Wacha has typically pitched well against the Padres, with a 2.21 ERA in six starts.
Paddack looks to regain the momentum he had to start the season. He has allowed at least two runs in four straight starts and has a 6.28 ERA in June. Paddack pitched against the Cardinals on April 6 and struggled with command, walking a career-high four batters, but didn’t allow an earned run and was lifted after just 3 2/3 innings. His numbers are still very respectable, with a 3.18 ERA and 130 ERA+.
It will be rookie against rookie as Hudson makes his 16th career start in the majors. He has pitched very well in June with a 2.05 ERA and is averaging over six innings per start. He is yet to pitch against the Padres in his brief career and Manny Machado is the only Friar with any at-bats against him, going 0-for-2.
Game 3 (Sunday, June 30- 1:10 PM PDT): Joey Lucchesi (6-4, 3.95 ERA) vs. TBD
Lucchesi has perhaps been the most steady of the starting pitchers for San Diego. However, he allowed four earned runs in five innings in his last start in that wild 11-10 loss to the Pirates last Sunday. He has allowed less than four runs in 10 of his 15 starts this season. Paul Goldschmidt has hit Lucchesi like he has hit against most Padres pitching, very well, with a .538 average in 16 plate appearances including two home runs. Lucchesi has been strong at home with a 2.70 ERA in nine starts.
Hitters to Watch
The Padres are very familiar with the talents of Goldschmidt from his eight seasons playing with the division rival Arizona Diamondbacks. Although he has not been his usual top-5-in-MVP-voting self, he loves hitting against the Padres. Look past his season average of .253 with an OPS of .759 and see his numbers against San Diego. In 127 games against the Friars, he is batting .306 with 22 home runs and a .963 OPS, absolutely torturing Padres’ pitchers. A lot of that damage has come at Petco Park, where he has 11 home runs and an OPS of .879.
This series is not short on star power in either lineup. Machado is the hottest hitter for the Padres, and quite possibly the hottest hitter in baseball, as he owns a .449 average with five home runs and a 252 wRC+ in the last 14 days, the third-best mark in the entire league. His season stats look much more like vintage Machado after a slow start as he now sits at a .280 average with 17 homers and a .858 OPS.