One of the Padres' 2024 surprises saves team from all-time terrible road trip

San Diego looked to be on pace for an all-time terrible road trip this week, but their unlikely ace saved the day once again.
San Diego Padres v Philadelphia Phillies
San Diego Padres v Philadelphia Phillies / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages
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The San Diego Padres found themselves in a very precarious position heading into Wednesday's matchup with the Phillies. The Friars had been swept by the New York Mets during the first leg of their road trip and Philadelphia took the first two games of the series leading. The possibility existed that San Diego could be heading home with an 0-6 record on their road trip.

Fortunately, the Padres were able to rally and win the final game of their series against the Phillies to avoid the sweep. While the offense came up clutch late in the game once Philly's starter Ranger Suarez was removed from the game (along with a helping hand from the Phillies' defense), the real hero of the series finale was one of the biggest surprises of the Padres' 2024 season, Matt Waldron.

Padres News: Waldron's latest gem ends San Diego's skid and adds to his legend

It is probably fair to say that Waldron wasn't particularly high on most people's lists of guys that could carry the Padres in the first half. Yu Darvish, Dylan Cease, and Joe Musgrove were clearly the more likely pitchers based purely on stuff. In terms of overall production, Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, and Ha-Seong Kim were easy picks to have stronger seasons than Waldron.

Instead, with Musgrove and Darvish's injuries, the Padres have leaned on Waldron and he has more than risen to the challenge. Despite primarily employing a knuckleball when the pitch had all but become extinct, Waldron has posted a 3.46 ERA across 15 starts and has easily been San Diego's most consistent starter. Wednesday was no exception as his seven innings of one-run ball was the sixth time this season he has gone at least six innings and given up two earned runs or less including his last five starts in a row.

Obviously a certain amount of caution needs to be exercised with Waldron's run of excellence this season. There is a reason why knuckleballers have struggled to maintain long stints in the big leagues as the pitch can often have a mind of it's own and can be impacted a lot by the weather and subtle changes in release point. That said, Padres fans should just enjoy the ride Waldron is giving them while they can and hope that he can at least keep it up until their rotation is back at full strength.

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