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Series Preview 6/28-30: Cardinals at Padres

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MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at New York Mets Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

After a 4-5 homestand, St. Louis will wrap up the first half of the 2019 season with a three-city trip. First stop: San Diego, for three games with the Padres at Petco Park.

With a 40-39 record at the start of play on Friday, the Cardinals are in third place in the Central division, just three games back of the Cubs. The Padres are an even 40-40 but 14 12 games back of the 56-27 Dodgers.

In Friday’s series opener, Eric Lauer and Michael Wacha will be the mound matchup. The 24-year-old Lauer is in his second season and will make his team-leading 16th start of the year on Friday. Drafted back in 2016, the left-hander Lauer has lowered his BB/9 rate to 2.55 (it was 3.70 last year) and has allowed just one homer in the month of June.

Wacha pitched six innings of one-run ball against the Angels in his last start, his third since returning from a stint in the bullpen. Nobody on the current Padres roster has taken Wacha deep in the past. Eric Hosmer, who leads San Diego with a .287 batting average, is 4-for-19 in his career against Wacha.

On Saturday, Chris Paddack and Dakota Hudson will be the starters. The rookie Paddack has given up 10 earned runs in 14 1⁄3 innings in June, with his opponents batting .328 with four long balls. For the season as a whole, Paddack has a 3.18 ERA in 13 starts, including a 2.50 ERA with 43 punchouts in six home starts.

Hudson has had a great month of June to build on what was a very solid May. The 24-year-old has allowed just seven runs in his last 32 innings and his last eight starts have been quality. Left-handed batters are hitting .308 off Hudson this year, but the Padres’ batting order is mostly right-handed - once you get by Hosmer.

Joey Lucchesi and Miles Mikolas will go on Sunday. Lucchesi, another young San Diego hurler, leads the staff with 82 strikeouts and a 1.11 WHIP in 84 13 innings pitched. This is Lucchesi’s second season as a starter for the Padres, and he has lowered his walk, home run and hit rates from a season ago.

Mikolas has allowed only one run total over his last two starts, against the Marlins and Angels. Mikolas has not fared well on the road this year, with a 7.76 ERA in seven starts away from Busch Stadium. Mikolas has allowed nine homers on the road, and opponents are hitting .346 against him. We’ll have to see if Sunday continues or reverses this trend.

So, to recap:

Friday, 6/28, 9:10 | Lauer v Wacha | FSMW, KMOX, CRN

Saturday, 6/29, 9:10 | Paddack v Hudson | FSMW, KMOX, CRN

Sunday, 6/30, 3:10 | Lucchesi v Mikolas | FSMW, KMOX, CRN

Notes from around the league:

  • The London Series is this weekend! The Yankees and Red Sox will play on Saturday and Sunday, with the first game set for 12:10 PM Central time on Saturday on Fox. Sunday’s contest is at 9:10 AM, and you can watch on ESPN.
  • The Rays have promoted Brendan McKay to make Saturday’s start, and this will be the 23-year-old’s MLB debut. The lefty has a 1.08 ERA in 25 innings at Triple-A.
  • Craig Kimbrel recorded his first save as the closer for the Cubs on Thursday. The Cubs are in Cincy for a series with the Reds this weekend.