In three seasons with the San Diego Padres, Joey Lucchesi, the left-handed starter with a herky-jerky delivery, was a popular pitcher around Petco Park.
Although his overall record as a Padre was 18-20 with a 4.21 earned run average, he was much tougher at home — where he has a 13-8 record in 33 games (32 starts) with a 3.19 ERA.
Friday night, Lucchesi returns to Petco Park to face the Padres for the first time as a member of the New York Mets in the second game of a four-game series between the clubs.
Lucchesi (1-3, 6.56 ERA) will be matched against the Padres’ Blake Snell (1-2, 5.55) in a pairing of struggling left-handers.
Friday’s game will be doubly important for the Padres, who will be seeking a second straight win over the Mets and a franchise-record, 12th straight win at home on the eve of Jacob deGrom’s Saturday start.
But Snell has been tested in his two most recent starts — giving up 12 runs on 10 hits and six walks in a total of 6 2/3 innings as his ERA ballooned from 3.79 to 5.55. He also has given up three home runs in the back-to-back losses.
Another problem with Snell is the fact that he has completed six innings in only one of his 11 starts.
“I honestly think I’m close,” Snell said after giving up seven runs in three innings in his most recent outing – at a time when the Padres needed him to go five or six innings to save the bullpen. “My pitches are there. I’ve just missed at times. I know I’ll get it turned around. I think it’s not that far off.”
The Padres sent Lucchesi to the Mets on Jan. 19 as part of a three-team trade that brought starting pitcher Joe Musgrove — who draws deGrom Saturday night — to San Diego. The Padres also sent the Pirates four minor leaguers in the trade.
Lucchesi has made eight appearances with the Mets and Friday will be his third straight start and sixth overall. He has worked 23 1/3 innings total, giving up 18 runs (17 earned) on 22 hits and eight walks with 27 strikeouts.
But in his past two starts, Lucchesi has allowed one run on three hits and three walks with 10 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings.
Mets manager Luis Rojas explained that Lucchesi’s length as a starter has been restricted because the Mets have also kept him available as a reliever.
“He hasn’t had the luxury of side sessions between starts because we’ve also had to have him in the bullpen just in case,” Rojas said. “We didn’t know he was making his last start until the night before the game.”
While Lucchesi is hoping to be allowed to go deeper into games, the Padres are pleading with Snell to lengthen out his starts. The Padres bullpen has thrown almost as many pitches as the starters this season, and the former Cy Young Award-winning Snell has been a particular problem, completing five innings only five times.
–Field Level Media