The San Diego Padres entered their series with the Cincinnati Reds one game out of first place in the National League West and will turn to veteran starter Michael Wacha on Tuesday to pick up a win at home.
Cincinnati Reds vs. San Diego Padres (-190, 8.5)
Wacha had a career renaissance in 2022 which saw him post a 3.32 ERA thanks to an opponent’s batting average of .233 despite him getting just 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings.
This season has seen Wacha’s ERA balloon to 6.75 despite his strikeouts per nine innings rate ticking up to 8.4 and the number of walks he allows per nine innings remaining relatively the same. The difference has been that he has had poor fortune on balls in play.
Opponents are hitting .311 off of Wacha this season and with his FIP at 4.45, which is more than two full points lower than his ERA, it should lead to positive regression moving forward.
The Reds hand the ball to second-year starter Graham Ashcraft, who has gotten off to a great start to the 2023 season with two runs or fewer allowed in each of his five starts this season.
The key to Ashcraft’s success has been limiting hard contact, giving up just one home run in 30 innings this season, and will be in a pitcher-friendly ballpark on Tuesday.
Dating back to the 2022 season the Padres have struggled to score at Petco Park, generating 3.7 runs per game at home and 4.9 runs per game on the road last season. This season, the Padres have averaged just 3.2 runs per game in San Diego.
With the series in Mexico City excluded, the Padres entered the series hitting .215, which is last in the National League, while their 3.6 runs per game ranks 27th among MLB teams.
While the Padres struggle to score at home, the Reds have had issues scoring away from home as their 3.7 runs per game on the road entering the series was tied for 27th in the league.
Additionally, the Reds offense entered the series having hit just five home runs on the road this season while every other MLB team had at least nine home runs on the road this season.
With the Reds backing up Ashcraft with a bullpen that entered the series 11th in the league in ERA, Tuesday’s showdown in San Diego sets up for a good night for the pitchers.
The Play: Reds vs. Padres Under 8.5