The San Diego Padres rotation boasts a number of starting pitchers the team can confidently put on the mound to start Game 1 of a National League wild-card series against the St. Louis Cardinals, but Chris Paddack isn’t near the top of that list.
That noted, Paddack will get the start on Wednesday afternoon, taking the hill after injury concerns sidelined two other starters.
Injuries Hobble Padres Rotation
The Padres planned to send Dinelson Lamet to the mound to start the series, but he exited his final outing of the regular season on Friday after going just 3.2 innings and complaining of tightness in his biceps. While Lamet says he’s felt fine since, San Diego decided to rest him for at least one more day.
San Diego picked up Mike Clevinger from Cleveland at the trade deadline, and he too would have made a logical Game 1 starter. But Clevinger has suffered from an arm injury that emerged during a one-inning stint in a Sept. 23 start. ESPN reported that the Clevinger is likely out for the wild-card series, and could miss the entirety of the postseason. (Update: San Diego left both Lamet and Clevinger off their roster for the wild-card series.)
Padres vs. Cardinals Odds
- Cardinals (Kim): +144
- Padres (Paddack): -166
- Cardinals +1.5 (-146)
- Padres -1.5 (+124)
- Padres: -210
- Cardinals: +176
Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
That left the Padres with two options: throw Zach Davies on just three days rest, or give the ball to Paddack, who put together an inconsistent 4-5 record with a 4.73 ERA this year. He’ll face off against Cardinals lefty Kwang Hyun Kim, who went 3-0 with a 1.62 ERA in 39 innings this year.
Despite that matchup, FanDuel Sportsbook lists the Padres as a -166 favorite over the Cardinals (+144) in Game 1. That’s largely due to two facts: San Diego’s home-field advantage, and the Padres’ lineup, which remains far more potent than its St. Louis counterpart.
Led by Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Wil Myers, the Padres put up 325 runs during the regular season, good for third best in the NL. The Cardinals scored just 240 – albeit in only 58 games, rather than 60 – which stands as the second-worst mark in the league.
Cardinals Persevere Despite COVID-19 Shutdown
What the Cardinals lack in firepower, they might make up for in resiliency. St. Louis made the playoffs despite suffering through the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the majors, forcing them to play a frantic schedule to make up 16 postponed games.
“What we were able to accomplish, do something that is so unprecedented, and had never been done in sports anywhere,” Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter told reporters. “You talk about a team that lost half of their roster from the start of this season. We never had our full roster. And to play 53 games in 44 days, it was unbelievably challenging.”
Meanwhile, the Padres entered the season as a fringe playoff contender. But a strong start combined with some ambitious deadline deals propelled the team into the World Series picture after going 37-23 — the third-best record in the majors.
FanDuel now lists the Padres as a +1020 pick to win the World Series, but the team is still taking things one step at a time.
“Before this season, we came to focus on one objective as a team,” San Diego first baseman Eric Hosmer told reporters. “Make the playoffs … and go from there.”