Pair of Padres rookie southpaws impress on Wednesday in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS– On May 11, rookie Eric Lauer took the mound at home to face the St. Louis Cardinals in what was his fourth career start. He got hit around pretty good, allowing seven hits and six earned runs in 2 1/3 innings of work. The Cardinals hit four home runs off Lauer and only whiffed on one of his 62 pitches.

The Ohio native averaged only 89.1 mph on his fastball throughout his start, per baseball savant.

“I think it was because I was trying to do too much,” Lauer said after the start. “When I try to do too much, my mechanics get a little off. I start pulling off, so I start trying to throw harder. It really comes out slower because my arm was dragging.”

On Wednesday night in St. Louis, Lauer got a second crack at the Cardinals. And although he was not dominant, he did take a positive step in the right direction.

Spotted to a two-run lead before even delivering a pitch and a 4-0 lead heading into his final inning, Lauer fired five scoreless innings before allowing a Marcell Ozuna 2-run home run in the bottom of the sixth. He ended up going 5 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits and two earned runs. His average fastball velocity was 90.9 mph.

For the first time in Lauer’s career (and one start removed from walking seven batters), he did not walk a single batter. Heading into the sixth, he had only allowed five hits. Facing the heart of the Cardinals right-handed heavy order in the sixth for the third time might have been a little too much of an ask, but the rookie showed plenty of improvement. If you are Andy Green, you have to like that.

“I thought overall he had a tremendous day,” Green stated after the game.

If that was not all, Lauer picked off Harrison Bader in the first inning, his seventh of the season. He has had five consecutive starts with a pickoff, which is a new Padres record.

The performance earned Lauer his third career MLB win.

With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Lauer was lifted for reliever Jose Castillo, another rookie left-hander. Castillo had already shown glimpses of brilliance in his brief big league career, including striking out the side in his major league debut.

Castillo kept a dominant start to his career going, striking out Yairo Munoz to end the sixth.

In the seventh, Castillo was tasked with facing Kolten Wong, Dexter Fowler, and Harrison Bader. He struck all of them out, using a devastating slider to retire each one.

The 22-year-old has now struck out nine of the fourteen batters he has faced in three big league appearances.

“Jose Castillo is really good, and we have hardly seen him much lately,” Green said.

“I think, by circumstance, you are going to continue see him more and more. I think you would be a fool not to like what you have seen from him.”