A successful weekend has left the San Diego Padres confident after making it through a grueling start to the season
Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs need to get back on track following a rough home series
Perhaps left-hander Justin Steele can help the Cubs avoid a third straight defeat, while also trying for a fourth consecutive winning decision on Tuesday night, against the visiting Padres, who eye their third victory in a row
San Diego lost six of seven and was 8-11 last Tuesday. Since then, stars Fernando Tatis Jr. and Joe Musgrove returned to action, and the Padres won four of five. Matt Carpenter had three hits with five RBIs as San Diego won 7-5 on Sunday to take three of four at Arizona
After their first off day since April 5, the Padres look to stay hot in Chicago, before another day off Friday, and two games over the weekend versus San Francisco at Mexico City
"We've gotten through some struggles, and obviously, we (played) well this last series," said Padres infielder Jake Cronenworth, per the San Diego Union-Tribune
Cronenworth is batting .300 (6-for-20) with a home run and four doubles in the last six games. The 37-year-old Carpenter went 5-for-7 with two homers, three doubles and seven RBIs, while seeing time in all four games at Arizona.
The Padres scored at least five runs in three of the four games at Arizona and face a Chicago team that just allowed 22 runs and seven homers in three recent defeats to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Cubs entered the series as winners in four straight and 10 of 13
Steele (3-0, 1.44 ERA) ranks among the major league leaders in ERA, opponents' batting average (.163) and WHIP (0.88). He allowed an earned run and four hits over six innings of a 12-2 rout at Oakland on Wednesday, and dating to last season, has yielded just three runs and struck out 39 over 28 2/3 innings of his five most recent home starts.
"It just looks like he's picked up right where he left off last year," Chicago manager David Ross said of Steele, who posted an 0.96 ERA in his final five 2022 starts overall. "(He is) being really consistent for us. A valuable piece at the top of our rotation, who we expect big things from."
Steele's only previous start against San Diego remains one of the best in his career, allowing a run over seven innings of a 4-1 home victory last June. Cronenworth, however, had a pair of hits off Steele in that contest.
The Padres turn to Blake Snell (0-3, 6.00 ERA), who has endured a rough start but yielded season lows of two runs and three hits over five innings during an 8-1 home loss to Atlanta last week. The left-hander did issue three more walks, giving him 13 over 18 innings in 2023
Snell threw 12 scoreless innings during his previous two starts against the Cubs, but both came for Tampa Bay in 2017. Chicago's Trey Mancini and Yan Gomes are a combined 6-for-22 against Snell
Snell has never faced the Cubs' Nico Hoerner, who is batting .355 this season. Chicago's Cody Bellinger is 1-for-9 with four strikeouts versus Snell, but is hitting .380 (19-for-50) with four home runs, five doubles and nine RBIs in his last 13 games
--Field Level Media