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Jun 24, 2024 4:03 am

Padres send surging Matt Waldron to take on Nationals

matt waldron

The first San Diego Padres starter to deliver five straight quality starts this year isn’t an obvious choice.

It’s not Yu Darvish, their Opening Day pitcher. It’s not Joe Musgrove, owner of the franchise’s only no-hitter. It’s not even Dylan Cease, who was pitching at an All-Star level for the first six weeks of the season.

It’s No. 5 starter Matt Waldron, who looks to make it six in a row Monday night when San Diego opens a three-game series against the visiting Washington Nationals.

Waldron (5-6, 3.46) is coming off a 5-2 win on Wednesday in Philadelphia that snapped the Padres’ five-game losing streak and started a four-game winning streak. He held the Phillies to five hits and a run over seven innings, walking two and striking out six.

In his streak of quality starts, Waldron has permitted just five earned runs in 33 1/3 innings, walking six and striking out 24. His excellent control is even more remarkable when one considers he’s the only knuckleball pitcher in MLB.

“He’s been a guy that has shut down the other club,” Padres manager Mike Shildt said of Waldron.

“I just feel like I’ve faced some of the best teams in the league so that gives me a little bit of confidence going forward,” Waldron said.

Though Waldron also owns a fastball that sits at 92-93 mph, he’s made more use of the knuckler recently. Against Philadelphia, he used a season-high 48 flutterballs out of his 104 pitches.

“They were moving all sorts of ways,” Phillies second baseman Bryson Stott said of Waldron’s offerings.

Waldron lost his only career start last year against Washington, permitting two runs over 4 2/3 innings on four hits with a walk and two strikeouts.

Meanwhile, the Nationals turn to veteran left-hander Patrick Corbin (1-7, 5.60), who pitched effectively Wednesday night in his team’s 3-1 win over Arizona. Corbin gave up just three hits and a run in five innings, walking three and striking out seven in a no-decision.

In his career against San Diego, Corbin is 7-11 with a 4.80 ERA in 24 outings (19 starts). The home run ball has hurt Corbin in those games as he’s yielded 16 in 120 innings.

Washington enters the game fresh off a 2-1 win Sunday at Colorado, winning two of three games in the series. The Nationals scored both their runs in the top of the ninth, enabling them to claw within a half-game of the Padres for the final National League wild-card spot.

The result was Washington’s 22nd victory after trailing, tops in the NL.

“They’re going out there trying to scratch and claw but they don’t give up,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said of his team. “They don’t give up ever. When you go out there and play hard for the 27 outs, good things happen.”

It was a turnaround from an 8-7 loss Saturday night, when Washington became the first team to lose on a pitch-clock violation in the rule’s two-year history.

The status of San Diego right fielder Fernando Tatis Jr. (elbow/quad) for the series opener isn’t known. He’s missed the past two games after being hit by a pitch Friday night.

–Field Level Media

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