The San Diego Padres visit Wrigley Field to play the Chicago Cubs in a three-game series. What should we expect from the first match-up this season?
The San Diego Padres will need to quickly change gears as they prepare to play the Chicago Cubs on Friday. The Friars are coming off a disappointing series loss to the Miami Marlins, while the Cubs are riding a series win against the Cincinnati Reds.
San Diego has had a trend this season — lose to the bad teams, beat the good teams. It’s come with some really great highs and some devastating lows.
They lost the four-game series to the Reds back in April, though, and are 1-6 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the last series being a sweep at the hands of the black and yellow.
Things are a bit different now as the Padres get their first crack at the Cubs this season. Chicago sits atop the NL Central with a 52-44 record, just 2.0 games ahead of the Brewers and 2.5 of the Cardinals.
The NLC has seriously under performed this season and is partially responsible for the loaded wild card race — no one team seems to have a grip on the division, and it’ll likely come down to the wire in September. Even the Reds could make a play for the division considering how things have played out.
The Cubs offense continues to impress though, as the team owns a +68 run differential that’s tied for second in the NL behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers. It’s also been a tough year to play in Chicago, as the team is 34-17 at Wrigley Field and has gone 7-3 in their last 10 home games.
The hot bat currently belongs to Kris Bryant, who’s hitting .299/.408/.565 and is on pace to have his best season yet. The three-time All-Star has 191 total bases and 49 RBI alreadys, with 20 home runs to boot.
The Cubs know how to share the wealth too, as four of their players are batting above .285 on the year. Javier Baez leads the teams in hits (109), home runs (22), RBIs (63), and total bases (205), while Anthony Rizzo isn’t far behind. After a slow start to the season, the 2016 World Series champions appear to be right on track at the right time of the year.
Let’s take a look at the pitching battles we expect to see this series.
Jon Lester will take the mound for the Cubs and will face off against Eric Lauer. Lester is coming off a career year in 2018, when he finished with the most wins in the league and earned his 5th All-Star nod.
He’s still going strong too, sitting at 9-6 with a 3.74 ERA, 1.307 WHIP, and 99 strikeouts this season. In his last three games, Lester has pitched 18.2 innings with 17 strikeouts, five walks, and 10 runs allowed, but only seven of those were earned.
Lester is especially effective at home, owning a 2.62 ERA at Wrigley vs. 5.09 on the road this season. The 13-year-vet is 3-1 against the Padres in his career with a 3.98 ERA.
For the Padres, Eric Lauer rejoins the team after some time on the bereavement list. The second-year starter is 5-7 with a 4.04 ERA and 1.303 WHIP. He had a great outing in his last start against the Dodgers, when he pitched six strong innings to allow only two runs to score, striking out six batters and walking one.
Lauer has struggled on the road though, giving up 5.75 earned runs on average vs. only 2.66 in San Diego. His 2.88 K/BB ratio and 1.303 WHIP indicate his difficulty with walks and hits, though he doesn’t allow too many runners to actually score. He’ll have his work cut out as he faces a Cubs offense that has dominated at home and ranks sixth in the league for team OBP.
The second game of the series will pit José Quintana against Joey Lucchesi. Quintana is 7-7 on the year with a 4.21 ERA, 1.346 WHIP, and 88 strikeouts.
Quintana has done a fair job going deep into games, lasting six innings in his last start and seven innings just prior. He allowed six runs off of 12 hits in that time span, throwing a solid 3.33 K/BB ratio. The right-hander had a tough June, tossing a 5.17 ERA and allowing an average slash line of .288/.336/.484 to batters faced. However, he’s seemed to pick himself back up through July thus far.
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Meanwhile, Lucchesi is coming off a decent outing against the Atlanta Braves, where he surrendered only two runs off of three hits through five innings. He was pulled at the end of the fifth having thrown 79 pitches, which seemed like a questionable move at the time.
Lucchesi is 7-4 on the season and has been one of the Padres more reliable pitchers. His 3.92 ERA and 1.109 WHIP are second only to Chris Paddack on the thin starting rotation.
The final game of the series will feature Kyle Hendricks vs. Cal Quantrill.
Hendricks has 3.46 ERA and 1.164 WHIP for a cool 7-7 record on the season. He’s had some impressive wins this year, primarily an 81-pitch shutout of the Cardinals back in May. Hendricks is also demonstrably better at home, going 4-1 with a 1.80 ERA and 0.891 WHIP in Chicago.
In the other dugout, Quantrill had a very impressive outing against the Braves. He made the most of his second start since being moved to the bullpen, tossing six scoreless innings with only three hits allowed.
The rookie had seriously improved once he joined the pen, allowing one run in 5.2 total innings pitched in relief. While he was rocked in his prior start to the San Francisco Giants before facing the Braves, Cal has seemed to settle down. He could certainly make a case for moving back into the starting rotation if he pitches another impressive game against the Cubs.
The last time these teams met was in 2018, when the Padres and Cubs split the four-game series in Wrigley Field. Both teams will be looking to break that split this time around.
The Padres at Cubs series will begin on Friday, July 19 at 11:20 AM PT/2:20 PM ET. For complete coverage of the San Diego Padres 2019 season, be sure to visit Friars on Base all season long.