After a 4-3 homestand against some tough opponents, the 27-28 Padres are headed to Cincinnati to take on the 23-29 Reds. This will be their first series against a below-.500 opponent since their trip to Seattle more than three weeks ago. Offensively, the Reds are anchored by third baseman Todd Frazier and first baseman Joey Votto. The two sluggers have combined for 26 home runs, with Frazier ranking 4th in the league at 16. The Padres are bringing some lumber of their own, with Justin Upton and his 12 home runs and the newly returned Yonder Alonso, who raised his batting average to .351 by going 4-for-7 in his first two games back.
Tyson Ross (2-5, 3.76 ERA) vs. Raisel Iglesias (1-5, 5.11 ERA)
Ross hasn't had a win since May 14, but it's not for lack of trying. He's gone 6+ innings in his last three starts, allowing three runs in each. He's just been short on run support recently. In Iglesias, the Reds are sending a rookie to the mound for his fifth major league start. One of those starts was an impressive 8-inning 2-hit performance against the braves. He hasn't repeated that yet. In his last outing against the Nationals, he gave up 5 runs on 9 hits in 5.2 innings.
Odrisamer Despaigne (3-3, 4.56 ERA) vs. Michael Lorenzen (1-1, 3.06 ERA)
Despaigne hasn't shown the awful road split we saw from him last year, but that might be because he hasn't been that great at home, either. He is coming off his first ever 8-inning start, a one-run affair against the Pirates on Sunday. Hopefully we'll see more of that. The Reds are sending another rookie out for Game 2, but this one is having more success. Lorenzen hasn't allowed more than two runs in a start since his first start on April 29.
Andrew Cashner (2-8, 3.46 ERA) vs. Johnny Cueto (3-4, 2.90 ERA)
This is where things really get tough for the Padres. Cashner is coming off a start that's weirdly, badly historic, while Cueto is still pitching like an ace. He has the fourth lowest WHIP in the league and the sixth-highest strikeout to walk ratio. If Cashner can shake off his last start, this could be a pitchers' duel.
On the whole, this series seems easily winnable, and if they can get to Cueto, the Padres could get into a much-needed winning streak.