San Diego hasn’t picked a starter for Game 3 of its National League wild card series vs. the St. Louis Cardinals, as the Padres will be looking for strong pitching performances from anyone and everyone on Friday night.

Padres Cardinals Odds Game 3
Fernando Tatis Jr. (right) homered twice on Thursday to lead the San Diego Padres to an 11-9 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. (Image: Orlando Ramirez/USA Today Sports)

The Padres forced the decisive Game 3 after a come from behind 11-9 win in Game 2 on Thursday.

Home Run Barrage Carries San Diego

After falling behind 6-2, San Diego blasted the Cardinals bullpen, getting two homers each from Fernando Tatis Jr. and Wil Myers along with another from Manny Machado to escape with the win.

“I feel like we needed that big swing for the entire team to get us going,” Tatis told reporters after the game. “We were missing a lot with runners in scoring position. I feel like whoever did it first, we were going to feed off that. Thank God I did it first, but I’m just happy the team clicked and we won the game.”

But San Diego’s early struggles leave the team with few pitching options heading into Game 3. Between Chris Paddack and Zach Davies, Padres starters have only gone 4.1 innings so far in the series, putting a strain on the team’s bullpen. Meanwhile, top starters Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger are out for at least this series.

Padres vs. Cardinals Odds (Game 3)

Money Line

  • Cardinals (Flaherty): +115
  • Padres (Unknown): -129

Run Line

  • Cardinals (+1.5): -189
  • Padres (-1.5): +155

Over/Under: 9 

Odds via BetMGM

That means that any choice Padres manager Jayce Tingler makes will be less than ideal. As of Friday afternoon, he still hadn’t chosen what will likely be an opener to pitch the first inning.

“I have no idea what we’re going to do with our pitching,” Tingler told reporters after Game 2. “My guess is we’re going to get a great effort from whomever we use, and it will be a number of guys. The bullpen has been prepared and ready. They kept us in the game.”

St. Louis Needs Vintage Flaherty Performance

On the other hand, the Cardinals have announced Jack Flaherty as their Game 3 starter. Flaherty finished fourth in the NL Cy Young Award voting in 2019, but went just 4-3 with a 4.91 ERA this season. St. Louis will count on him to provide some quality innings after seeing its bullpen battered on Thursday night.

“We’re confident in Jack and looking forward to this,” Cardinals manager Mike Schildt told reporters. “We’ve been playing under pressure for a long time now.”

While nobody knows who the Padres will put on the mound for Game 3, that hasn’t stopped bettors from backing San Diego. While BetMGM opened the game as a tossup, San Diego moved to a -129 favorite over the Cardinals (+115) on Friday afternoon after nearly 94 percent of tickets and 71 percent of the handle came in on the Padres.

The postseason road won’t get any easier for Friday’s winner. Whoever advances will take on the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS, who looked as good as advertised in a two-game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers in their wild card series.