Pirates, Padres hope rain stays away

By The Sports Xchange  |  May 17, 2018 at 8:54 AM
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PITTSBURGH -- The San Diego Padres and Pittsburgh Pirates open a four-game series at PNC Park Thursday, and there will be one constant. Rain. A lot of it. And throughout the four days.

Since this is the Padres' only trip to Pittsburgh this season, everything will be done to get all four games in before the Padres head to Washington Sunday evening.

That could mean a lot of weather delays and the possibility of a doubleheader toward the end of the series.

And while teams on the East are constructed with an eye toward such eventualities, teams from sunny Southern California are constructed differently.

As the Padres prepared to leave San Diego on Tuesday, manager Andy Green had already studied the forecast and how it might affect his pitching. Clouds had already formed over the Padres' rotation. The Padres placed rookie left-handed starter Joey Lucchesi on the 10-day disabled list Tuesday with a strained glute muscle -- leaving the Padres with only four starters.

"We'll need another starting pitcher Sunday or Monday," said Green, optimistically. "But the weather in Pittsburgh could change things in the bullpen."

The Padres have already dipped into the bullpen for one starter -- Jordan Lyles, who was perfect for 7 1/3 innings against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday in his second start. Lyles took Bryan Mitchell's spot in rotation, and Mitchell is now in the Padres bullpen, along with Robbie Erlin, who has already made a spot start.

To open the series Thursday, the Padres will send out rookie left-hander Eric Lauer (1-2, 8.27 ERA) against Pirates right-hander Chad Kuhl (4-2, 4.17).

Kuhl will be making his ninth start of the season. He has allowed 45 hits in 45 1/3 innings with 16 walks and 42 strikeouts. Kuhl, 25, the Pirates' ninth-round pick in the 2013 draft, has a 17-17 career record with a 4.28 ERA in 53 starts.

In his most recent start, Kuhl allowed three runs, six hits and four walks over six innings and did not get a decision in the Pirates' 6-5 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Saturday.

Kuhl will be making his third career start against the Padres. He has a 1-0 record with a 3.18 ERA in 11 1/3 innings against San Diego. He has given up nine hits and nine walks against eight strikeouts in those two games.

Kuhl has a 10-8 record with a 4.79 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP in 26 home starts at PNC Park.

The 6-foot-3, 227-pound Lauer, 22, has made four starts for the Padres since being promoted from Triple-A El Paso on April 24.

One of his starts was brilliant. On May 6 in San Diego, Lauer shutout the Dodgers on seven hits and a walk with five strikeouts over six innings.

His other three outings have been something else. He has given up 15 earned runs on 20 hits and seven walks in 10 1/3 innings - for a WHIP of 2.61. In his most recent start, he gave up four homers in a span of 2 1/3 innings Friday against the Cardinals.

"I think Eric is learning," Green said. "I think what gets lost in the shuffle so much is, I don't know of another starting pitcher outside of Lucchesi who is in the big leagues from that 2016 draft class. That's how quickly he got to the major leagues right now.

"There should be expected some outings like last time. There should be some expectations that he has to find his footing from time to time. I think we're optimistic going into the start in Pittsburgh that he has enough stuff to get guys out. We just want to see him attack hitters."

Lauer has never faced the Pirates.

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