San Diego Padres: Friars look to continue success in Pittsburgh
Previewing the pitching matchups this week at PNC Park as the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Diego Padres square off in a three game series.
Quietly, the Padres are starting to win some games and find some consistency both offensively and with their pitching. The club has won five out of their last seven, including a series victory last weekend over the surging Pittsburgh Pirates.
This weekend, they face the same NL central club once again. But this time, they will need to travel east to Pittsburgh, a much more difficult task. We break down the pitching matchups in this three game weekend set.
Friday, 4:05 PM: Wood vs. Nova
After being acquired by the Padres last week as part of their six player deal with the Royals, Travis Wood will make his second start with San Diego in Pittsburgh on Friday afternoon. The 30-year-old has struggled this year with a 6.24 ERA out of the bullpen. Hopefully, moving back to a starting role will mark the beginning of a transformation for Wood in 2017.
Ivan Nova has pitched very consistently for the Bucs, earning himself a 10-8 record and a 3.75 ERA. The right-hander is the type of pitcher the Padres should know what to expect from, and should try to be patient with. Doing so will prove valuable in a critical opening game in this difficult series.
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Saturday, 4:05 PM: Lamet vs. Cole
Saturday’s game looks to be the most difficult of the series for the Friars based on the pitching matchup. Gerrit Cole, while not the same pitcher he was in his all-star 2015 campaign, is still a formidable right-hander with a large repertoire.
Opposing the 26-year-old will be Dinelson Lamet, a young starter thrust into action this season thanks to injuries suffered by Jered Weaver and Jarred Cosart. Lamet has been stronger over the past several weeks, but has expereinced numerous growing pains as is to be expected.
The key for San Diego on Saturday will be capitalizing on opportunities offensively and getting a quality start from Lamet. The Friars figure to get few chances against Cole, so they will need to hit with runners in scoring position and keep Pittsburgh off the board to the best of their ability.
Sunday, 10:35 AM: Richard vs. Taillon
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A disappointing 2017 for Clayton Richard has only been getting worse lately. The veteran southpaw who was signed for $1.75 million this offseason is now 5-12 with a 5.40 ERA. While he still appears to be effective with the majority of his pitches, Richard is struggling to put hitters away and limiting damage.
Sunday morning, the 33-year-old will take the mound against Jameson Taillon, a 25-year-old right-hander who has exceeded expectations for Pittsburgh this season, but has struggled recently. Despite his lower ERA and more recent success, it is Richard who is more capable of pitching a gem on occasion. This inconsistency makes a matchup like this hard to predict. It does, however, make the formula for victory quite simple. A quality start from Richard and the Padres should be on their way.
It won’t be as easy as last weekend to come out on top in this series. Away games are always difficult, especially on the east coast. In addition, the Pirates are a solid baseball team fighting for their playoff lives. With all of this in mind, this weekend will be another growing experience for the young Friars. And just as they have multiple times recently, it is possible that the team surprises us once again.