04/24 Padres Preview: Game 23 @ Nationals

Jason Miller

After losing the series in Milwaukee, our Padres have traveled further out east to kick off their series against the Nationals this afternoon.

Eric Stults is coming off his best start of the season and he'll take the mound in today's series opener in D.C.. The lefty gave up one run on three hits in a six-inning appearance on Saturday to lead the Padres to a win over the Giants. He'll be facing the Nats for just the second time in his career and hopes to live up to his only prior start against them. Last May he limited them to just a run on four hits through eight innings to earn the victory.

In that May start, Stults got just two runs of backing from San Diego's offense. There's a good chance he'll be working with the same kind of support (or lack thereof) this afternoon, as the Padres' hitting struggles continue. They are currently dead last in hitting with runners in scoring position (a depressing .188 average), failing to bring home an average of more than three runners from scoring position in each game this season. And when you already have a team OBP that ranks second-to-last in the majors, an inability to bring baserunners home spells disaster, no matter how brilliant our pitching has been.

It didn't help that our Padres faced some tough pitching in Milwaukee to start off this road trip. But they'll need to find a way to get those runs home, and the series in Washington doesn't look to be any more inviting. They'll kick off the four-game set against Washington's Jordan Zimmermann, who is 11 with a 3.92 ERA so far this year. But his last two starts were fantastic and he'll try to keep that momentum going while taking advantage of a struggling Padres offense. Zimmermann kept opponents to three earned runs while striking out 13 through 14 innings over his last two starts. The only reason he isn't 2-0 in that stretch is because of some poor defense his last time out, resulting in a one-run loss to the Cardinals.

The righty has gone 1-2 in five starts against the Padres, but has pitched better than his record makes it seem. Combine his career 1.95 ERA against San Diego with the aforementioned hitting struggles of the team and the outlook seems bleak.

That said, though, if Stults can continue the trend of marvelous pitching from our starters, he'll be able to keep us in the game today and our bullpen can take over and shut down the Nats in the late innings. So what I'm saying is that there's a chance! See if our Padres can come through this afternoon as the action gets underway at 4:05 PDT.

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