So far, the second half of the MLB season hasn’t gone well for the San Diego Padres.
After getting swept by the Atlanta Braves, the Friars dropped a three-game series to the Miami Marlins thanks to costly errors and untimely relief pitching.
Now 4-6 in their last ten games, San Diego is currently tied for last place in the NL West and are 16.5 games out of first place. However, they are still just 3.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot with a multitude of teams vying for the same spot. The Washington Nationals currently own the first Wild Card berth while the St. Loius Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers, and Philadelphia Phillies are tied for the second spot.
San Diego continues their road trip with a visit to the iconic Wrigley Field to square off with the Chicago Cubs.
The Cubs are currently at the top of the National League Central at 52-44 and are 34-17 at their home field. This will be the first time that the two teams will face off this season. San Diego and Chicago will not face each other again until early September when the Cubs come to town.
The main Chicago core is well known as they helped Chicago win their first World Series since 2016. Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant spearhead a potent Chicago lineup, and they have recently fortified their bullpen by signing Craig Kimbrel to a healthy contract, but the Cubs have dealt with injuries to their pitching staff throughout the season.
Eric Lauer will be handed the ball in Game 1 of the series and will be making his first start since coming off the bereavement list after the passing of his father. Cal Quantrill, after pitching six shutout innings against Atlanta, will look to build off of that strong start against the Cubs. The main factor to a successful series for San Diego will be their bullpen, which has been more of a detriment in the past series than it has been in most.
However, two of the three starters the Padres will face have had relative success against San Diego. Kyle Hendricks is 5-1 with a 3.08 ERA in eight career starts against the Padres while the veteran Jon Lester is 3-1 with a 3.98 ERA in seven contests. In his last three starts, Quintana has gone at least six innings but has allowed three runs in his last two starts.
Players to Watch
Coming from seemingly out of nowhere is Margot, who has retaken the starting job in center field. In his last seven games, has hit .381/.536/.857 with two home runs and seven walks against four strikeouts. In the previous series against the Marlins, he went 6-for-11 while scoring at least a run in each of those games. The main factor of his hot streak is his newfound plate discipline, as he has been taking more walks while getting into better hitting counts. With the struggles of Wil Myers, Margot looks like he will be the starting center fielder for the foreseeable future.
Bryant has been heating up over not just the past few games, but the entire month. Over the past 30 games, the former Torero has gone .355/.461/.636 with seven home runs and 11 RBIs. Bryant has been a monster at the plate while hitting at the heart of the Cubs lineup, so San Diego pitchers will have their work cut out for them when facing him.