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Five things to watch as the Yankees take on the Padres in a three-game series in San Diego

Here are five things to look for if the Yankees and San Diego Padres will play a three-game series at Petco Park starting Friday…

Can Yanks start the road trip well?

The weekend series with the Padres kicks off a nine-game road trip up the West Coast for the Yankees. They went 5-2 in their most recent homestand. At 35-17 and just 3.0 games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the AL East, the Yanks need to get off to a good start if they still want to return to the Bronx in first place.

After three with the Padres, the Yankees have three against the Los Angeles Angels (20-30), which shouldn’t be too bad, but then they head to San Francisco to take on the Giants (25-26). Achieving at least six victories in ten days should be the goal of this trip.

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Can starters hold on?

Perhaps the biggest surprise of this young season is how well the Yankees rotation has pitched without the ace Gerrit Kool.

This week alone saw the starters go 23.2 innings while giving up just three runs on 11 hits during their four-game series against the Seattle Mariners. These numbers go back even further, when they dominated the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins last week.

But can they keep this up?

New York will have Carlos Rodon (3.27 ERA), Marcus Stroman (3.05 ERA) and Clarke Schmidt (2.59 ERA) on the bump this weekend. All three have been effective lately, so we’ll see if they can continue that trend.

Against tough pitching

While the Yankees starters were tough, so are many of the Padres’ rotation arms. The Yanks will go head to head Yu Darvish (2.08 ERA) on Friday, Dylan stops (3.05 ERA) on Saturday and the recently returned Joe Musgrove (5.93 ERA) on Sunday.

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If the Yankees want to continue their winning ways, they will have to hit like they have their pitching backed up, but it could be difficult. Here’s how the top Yanks fared against the Padres’ likely starters:

  • Aaron Judge: 5-for-15, 2 2B, 4 RBI

  • Juan Soto: 7-for-16, 1 HR, 1 2B, 2 RBI

  • Giancarlo Stanton: 5-for-16, 2 HR (both against Cease), 5 RBI

  • Alex Verdugo: 6-for-22, 1 HR, 1 2B, 2 RBI

Not bad at all, but the first series of a long road trip could throw the Yankees bats off their game.

Can Clarke Schmidt bounce back?

Schmidt was the only starter who did not have his best performance this week. In Tuesday’s loss to the Mariners, Schmidt gave up two runs, but had to work through five innings. After the game, Schmidt felt like he was tilting his throws.

Before that start, Schmidt threw 14.2 shutout innings in his previous two appearances. He has taken a step forward as part of the rotation in his second year, and he will look to continue that trend in San Diego.

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So far this season, Schmidt is actually throwing better on the road. He has a 1.47 ERA in five road starts, compared to a 3.96 ERA in The Bronx.

Juan Soto returns to San Diego

This will be Soto’s first time facing the Padres in San Diego after the Yankees acquired him in a trade this offseason.

In his two seasons with the Padres, Soto hit .265/.405/.488 with 41 home runs and walked 176 times.

It will be interesting to see how Soto is received in San Diego and how he plays when he returns to Petco.

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