SAN DIEGO — To paraphrase a cliche, Friday night’s matchup between New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom and the San Diedo Padres‘ offense is akin to a rusty gate swinging in the path of a block wall.
The Padres are striking out at an alarming rate — 273 times in 26 games.
And they are striking out at a higher rate in their recent games — 37 times in a three-game series at Coors Field and 68 times during a 2-4 road trip to Arizona and Colorado.
San Diego returns home to Petco Park for a short three-game homestand. The first order of business for the Padres hitters is to put the ball in play against deGrom, who has 40 strikeouts in 32 innings over his first five starts this season.
DeGrom is 2-0 with a 2.53 ERA in his first five starts. Opposing hitters are batting .214 against deGrom. San Diego hitters, meanwhile, are hitting .221 on the season and averaging 3.8 runs per game.
DeGrom deserves to be 4-0. The Mets’ bullpen has blown the saves in deGrom’s past two starts, during which the right-hander has a 1.88 ERA.
DeGrom has already enjoyed success against the Padres and at Petco Park.
He has a 2-1 career record against San Diego with a 1.93 ERA in four starts. The Padres have a .188 career batting average against deGrom with a .220 on-base percentage. DeGrom has 27 strikeouts in 28 innings against San Diego.
And deGrom is also 2-1 at Petco Park with a 2.14 ERA in three starts.
Opposing batters are hitting .214 against deGrom this season. He has allowed 25 hits and eight walks.
Meanwhile, in addition to their .221 team batting average, the 9-17 Padres — even with two series at the hitting paradise of Coors Field under their belt — are reaching base only .29 percent of the time with a .362 slugging percentage for a 654 OPS.
San Diego’s offense should be bolstered by the return of Eric Hosmer. The first baseman has been away from the club for two days in Florida on emergency family Leave.
Facing deGrom on Friday night with be Padres left-handed starter Clayton Richard, who will be making his sixth start of the season.
Richard was an Opening Day starter for the first time of his career this season and responded by allowing one run on six hits over seven innings in his first start.
But he hasn’t gone farther than five innings since. Over his last four starts, Richard has given up 16 runs on 25 hits and 12 walks in 20 innings — an ERA of 7.20 and a WHIP of 1.85. Overall, Richard is 1-2 this season with a 5.67 ERA.
Richard has a 2-4 lifetime record against the Mets with a 4.41 ERA in eight starts. The Mets have a career .271 batting average against Richard.
Richard has had better success at Petco Park, where he has a 30-27 career record with a 3.30 ERA in 76 games (74 starts).