The San Diego Padres and the Washington Nationals are set to square off in a weekend series to open the second half of the Major League Baseball season in Washington D.C. this weekend.
Thes start of the second half marks a major opportunity for the Padres to make some serious moves in the National League West. Despite being one of the two favorites to win the World Series entering the season, San Diego finds themselves in third place in the National League West 6 games behind the division-leading San Francisco Giants.
The Padres’ first 10 games post-All-Star break are against three teams in the basement of the National League East – the Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves, and Miami Marlins. All three teams have records that currently are under .500, and with the season-ending injury to Braves star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., the Braves are wounded and could quickly fall in the standings.
Now is a big opportunity for the Padres to stack wins before the trade deadline, which could bring some reinforcements to the pitching staff.
In Washington, the process of selling appears to be on the horizon. Starting pitcher Max Scherzer is having another great season for the Nationals, but he’s in the final year of his contract and is unlikely to re-sign with the Nationals after the season. Scherzer is just one of many valuable assets that the Nationals could look to move come the trade deadline.
Here is what you need to know about the series opener between the Padres and Nationals for Friday night’s game.
The Nationals have yet to announce their pitching plans for the weekend, but with Scherzer starting the All-Star Game for the National League, it’s fair to assume that he won’t be taking the ball on Friday night.
For the Padres, it is going to be the 25-year-old righty Chris Paddack. Paddack hasn’t been as good as the Padres were expecting this season. In fact, he has a negative WAR this season and is just 4-6 with a 5.38 ERA in his 16 starts this season.
Paddack has struggled to limit the home run ball this season, and that has greatly contributed to his plus-five ERA in his 77.0 innings pitched this season. His 81 strikeouts are on pace to break his career-high of 153 back in 2019 when he was a rookie.
Prior to the All-Star Game, Paddack was roughed up in back-to-back starts. On July 7, he went just two innings and gave up eight earned runs to the Nationals in San Diego. He followed that start up with another two-inning performance that saw him give up four hits and one earned against the Padres.
According to baseball savant, the only areas that Paddack has been above average this season are in his strikeout rate, walk rate, whiff rate, chase rate, and his fast velocity. In nearly every other category, he is in the bottom 40 percent of Major League pitchers this season.
Paddack relies mainly on two pitches, his fastball, and change-up. However, he does throw a curveball about 11 percent of the time this season. Hitters have started to really sit on his fastball this season, and that is largely why he has struggled this season.
Despite it not being clear who is going to start for the Nationals on Friday night, it feels safe to say that Paddack isn’t going to get roughed up as he did in his two starts prior to the All-Star game.
Expect Fernando Tatis Jr. and the Padres lineup to come out aggressive and put some runs on the board for Paddack as the Padres will get the win in their first game back from the All-Star break.
Pick: San Diego Padres, -140
Take the Padres on the run line.