Milwaukee and San Diego last matched up in April when the Brewers traveled to the West Coast for their first road trip of the season. The Crew took three out of four games in the series.
In the subsequent four months, Milwaukee has held its own atop the National League Central, while a disappointing season has the Padres clinging to slim playoff hopes. The Brewers lead the division by 3.5 games. The Padres sit in fourth place in the NL West and six games out of the third Wild Card. The Crew takes a five-game winning streak into the series, while the Padres are 5-5 in their last 10 games.
San Diego’s roster has changed somewhat since the two teams last met. Young star Fernando Tatis Jr. has returned from a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, posting a 118 OPS+ while emerging as an elite defender in his first season as a full-time right fielder. Gary Sanchez has proven to be a valuable find off the scrap heap after the New York Mets designated him for assignment in late May, hitting 16 home runs in 62 games as the Padres’ primary catcher.
Chairman Peter Seidler and President of Baseball Operations AJ Preller opted to buy at the trade deadline despite their club’s sub-.500 record, but the commitment to contending has not paid off. The Friars have gone 8-12 since adding the likes of Rich Hill, Ji-Man Choi, Scott Barlow, and Garrett Cooper.
Friday, August 25 @ 7:10 p.m.: Brandon Woodruff vs. Yu Darvish
Woodruff makes his fourth start since returning from the injured list and looks to bounce back from an uncharacteristic showing against the Texas Rangers last Friday. The right-hander allowed four runs on a pair of home runs in 5 1⁄3 innings.
Darvish has taken a step back after a strong 2022 season, posting a 4.35 ERA and 3.96 FIP this year. He has still taken the ball 23 times and provided the Padres with 132 1⁄3 innings of roughly league-average pitching.
Saturday, August 26 @ 6:10 p.m.: Freddy Peralta vs. Pedro Avila
Peralta has locked in since a six-run outing against the Braves on July 21. In his last five starts, he has authored a 1.47 ERA, 1.11 FIP, and 43.5% strikeout rate. Peralta has notched double-digit strikeout totals in three of those outings, including a pair of 13-strikeout performances and 11 punchouts against the Rangers in his last start.
Avila makes just his fourth big-league start and his second of the season. He has struggled mightily as a starter in Triple-A El Paso but has thrown well as a bulk reliever with the Padres, notching a 1.17 ERA and 2.83 FIP with 28 strikeouts in 23 innings.
Sunday, August 27 @ 1:10 p.m.: Adrian Houser vs. Michael Wacha
Houser has pitched well in his last two starts against potent offenses. He got burned by poor luck on weak contact against the Los Angeles Dodgers but got better breaks in a one-run outing against the Rangers.
Wacha signed a multi-year deal with the Padres that features just one guaranteed year followed by a series of team and player options. The veteran has rewarded the club for its investment, authoring a 2.63 ERA and 3.68 FIP in 17 starts.
The Brewers’ bats could easily run into trouble against strikeout artists in Darvish and Avila, but they’ll send a pair of dominant arms to the bump in Woodruff and Peralta. I’ll predict two wins for Milwaukee for a series win.