Padres’ Yu Darvish, Mets’ Taijuan Walker highlight series opener

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The New York Mets open a four-game series in San Diego on Thursday night, however most people likely are looking toward to Saturday when Jacob deGrom takes his 0.71 ERA to the mound at Petco Park.

But the best head-to-head pitching matchup in the series might come on Thursday night when the Mets’Taijuan Walker (4-1, 1.84 ERA) faces the Padres’ Yu Darvish (5-1, 2.16).

The Padres are 10-1 in Darvish’s 11 starts and have won seven straight games in which he has taken the mound. The Mets are 8-1 in Walker’s nine starts and have won six straight.

Darvish also has a 0.930 WHIP and a .192 opponents’ batting average. Walker has a 0.939 WHIP and a .163 opponents’ batting average.

Walker, 28, has worked 49 innings, giving up 12 runs (10 earned) on 27 hits with 19 walks with 49 strikeouts.

“His velocity is up to 95 this year which makes everything else play up,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said of Walker. “He doesn’t shy away and when all his pitches are working, he’s among the leaders.”

Darvish, 34, has worked 66 2/3 innings, giving up 18 runs (16 earned) on 46 hits with 16 walks with 79 strikeouts.

“He’s an ace with great command of all the pitches in a wide and impressive arsenal,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said.

The timing couldn’t be better for the Padres that Darvish’s spot in the rotation comes up Thursday when the hosts need a stopper.

The Padres return home from a 10-game road trip that took a sharp turn for the worse in Chicago the past three days, as they were swept to stretch their losing streak to season-high four games.

Shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. is considered day-to-day with right oblique tightness and didn’t play in Wednesday’s loss to the Cubs. Tatis has a slashline 293/.376/.693 with 16 home runs and 37 RBIs on 41 hits in 39 games. He belted 17 home runs in 59 games last season.

“We’re right in the middle of playing 20 straight games and we’re banged up pretty good,” Tingler said Wednesday afternoon as the Padres prepared to limp out of Wrigley Field. “We’ll evaluate things on the flight home.”

The Mets have seven position players on the disabled list, including two starters — second baseman Jeff McNeil and right fielder Michael Conforto.

The Padres are dealing with health issues regarding five of their top 10 position players.

Catcher-infielder Austin Nola is on the injured list with a knee strain. Center fielder Trent Grisham might need a rehab assignment as he prepares to come off the injured list with a bruised heel. Outfielder Tommy Pham and shortstop Ha-Seong Kim both departed Thursday’s game after colliding chasing a pop fly in short and left and Pham will miss at least Thursday’s opener against the Mets.

The Padres dropped out of the National League West lead during their 4-6 road trip to Milwaukee, Houston and Chicago.

Meanwhile, the NL East-leading Mets have won six of their last seven games.

–Field Level Media

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