Major League Baseball

For starters, Padres face pitching issues vs. Nationals

NATIONALS (28-33) AT PADRES (31-31)
10:10 p.m. ET; FSSD, MLBN, MASN2, MLB.TV

The Padres didn’t beat Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg in back-to-back games in late April when San Diego visited Washington, D.C.

But they did beat the Nationals in back-to-back games when Scherzer and Strasburg started.

The Padres will likely have to do that again Saturday and Sunday in the second half of a four-game series at Petco Park in San Diego if they are to salvage much from a 10-game homestand.

With the bullpen blowing a 5-2 lead Wednesday afternoon, the Padres lost the second straight rubber match of a three-game series to slip back to .500 at 31-31 and fell to 16-18 in home games this season.

Continuing to play under .500 at home would likely doom the Padres as a playoff contender.

Meanwhile, the Nationals flew across the nation Wednesday night after defeating the Chicago White Sox 6-4 at Nationals Park for their fourth straight win. The Nationals are also 9-2 over their last 11 games.

The series opens Thursday night with a matchup of left-handers — the Nationals’ Patrick Corbin (5-3, 3.46) against the Padres’ Joey Lucchesi (4-3, 3.96), whose 12th start of the season comes on his 26th birthday.

The Nationals will follow with right-handers Erick Fedde, Scherzer and Strasburg. The Padres, however, are working around rotation problems.

San Diego placed left-hander Matt Strahm on the 10-day injured list Wednesday morning with a strained rib — meaning they don’t have a designated starter for Saturday night’s matchup with Scherzer.

It might very well become a bullpen start with Miguel Diaz getting the first couple innings. Diaz was activated from the 60-day disabled list Wednesday and worked an inning in relief of starter Cal Quantrill before fellow relievers Trey Wingenter and Craig Stammen gave up five runs in two innings.

The Padres have won three of Lucchesi’s last four starts with the pitcher lowering his ERA in each of those outings.

Over his last four outings, Lucchesi is 1-1 with a 2.49 ERA. He has allowed seven runs on 13 hits and three walks with 26 strikeouts in 25 1/3 innings for a 0.632 WHIP. Before those four starts, Lucchesi had a 5.00 ERA.

“The difference with Joey has been strike one,” Padres manager Andy Green said recently. “He has good stuff. He has deception with his delivery. When he gets ahead in the count, it plays. And recently he’s been more aggressive with his first pitch.”

Lucchesi started for the Padres in the game they lost in Washington in 11 innings on April 28. He allowed five runs (four earned) on nine hits and a walk with five strikeouts in four innings.

The second-year major-leaguer has made two career starts against the Nationals — giving up six runs (five earned) on 15 hits and two walks with 11 strikeouts in nine innings for a 5.00 ERA, a 1.889 WHIP and a .366 opponents’ batting average.

Corbin, 29, didn’t face the Padres when they visited Nationals Park in April. But he has a length history with the Padres. He is 6-7 against the Padres in 19 games (14 starts) with a 4.24 ERA, a 1.350 WHIP and a .267 OBA. He is 2-4 with a 3.97 ERA, a 1.257 WHIP and a .240 OBA in 10 games (seven starts) at Petco Park.

Corbin is 3-2 with a 3.13 ERA and a 1.165 WHIP in his last five starts, including a complete-game shutout.

“I’ve been using the sinker more,” Corbin said after his complete game. “I don’t think we missed once in the middle of the plate. And we started getting more early outs.”

–Field Level Media

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