Facing elimination, the Padres turn to Zach Davies in hopes of keeping the season alive.
In the wake of a challenging Game 1 loss to the St.Louis Cardinals yesterday, it’s do-or-die for the Padres, who hope to push the wild card round to a decisive third game. The news broke yesterday that newly acquired “ace” Mike Clevinger was left off the wild card roster and could miss the entire postseason, should San Diego make it past the opening round.
Dinelson Lamet, who stepped up hugely this season for the Padres, was also left off the wild card roster. Lamet is most likely of the two to return in the next round. Taking a major blow such as that, the Padres chose to start Chris Paddack. Paddack struggled to the tune of six earned runs in just 2.1 innings. While San Diego was able to tag Kwang Hyun Kim for three runs in 3.2 innings, they could not recover and ultimately fell 7-4.
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Zach Davies has his moment to shine tonight. It could also benefit the Padres in a big way to force a Game 3, as Davies has an extensive history versus St.Louis. Davies spent the past four seasons in Milwaukee before joining the Padres and has found some semblance of success against the Cardinals.
Last season, Davies pitched well against the Redbirds. In 9.2 innings, the right-hander posted a 3.72 ERA in the two starts. In each of those starts, Davies allowed just two earned runs and did not give up a single home run. It was a big step in a positive direction for the 27-year-old as his rebound from the year before was the turnaround he needed.
Davies, in 2018, got shellacked by St. Louis. Much of the same lineup returned for the Cardinals last season sans Marcell Ozuna, giving context to Davies’ lineup tonight in game two. A giant pitcher vs. hitter matchup of the night will be Davies against first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt holds a career .400/.571/.400 career line with three walks in ten at-bats facing Davies.
This season in his first year in a Padres uniform, Davies made 12 starts. He finished with a strong 2.73 ERA with a career-high 22.8 percent strikeout rate as well as a career-low 1.07 WHIP. Opposing hitters batted a paltry .214 as Davies finished with the best changeup in baseball in terms of overall value and a top ten cutter across the league.
As the Padres hope to stave off elimination and force a game three, it will be on Davies to help lead them. Jumping on Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright early will be critical as will Davies’ ability to pitch to at least the fifth inning. In the sixth inning in 7 1/3 innings this season, Davies posted a horrendous 8.59 ERA. Five shutout innings would set the tone and allow San Diego to piecemeal the rest. It’s wheels up for Davies.