Two teams on the outside fringe of the wild-card races meet for three games at Petco Park in San Diego with a sweep being the only outcome that truly would help either.
If the reigning World Series champion Boston Red Sox, who are visiting San Diego for the first time since 2013, are in position for the sweep Sunday, the opportunity could fall to David Price in a return from the injured list.
The Red Sox, who needed only 12 minutes to defeat the Kansas City Royals 5-4 early Thursday in the completion of a suspended game, are in fourth place in American League wild-card standings, but only the top two teams are invited to the playoffs. Boston is seven games back with 33 games remaining.
If the playoff odds are long for the Red Sox, they are almost astronomical for the Padres, who are nine games outside the second wild-card spot in the National League bracket and have six teams between them and a playoff berth.
While the series opens Friday night with Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (14-5, 4.10 ERA) facing Padres rookie right-hander Chris Paddack (7-6, 3.44 ERA), Boston's rotation plans for Sunday is still getting plenty of attention.
Officially, Sunday's starter for Boston is listed as TBA, with Price's return looming. Price has been out since Aug. 4 due to a cyst on his wrist.
After posting a 7-2 record with a 3.16 ERA in his first 17 starts, Price had a 10.58 ERA and pitched less than five innings three times in his four starts leading up to his time on the injured list.
But he felt much better in a bullpen session Tuesday at Fenway Park.
"I felt good, better than it did 10 days ago," Price said after the bullpen session. "I'm just getting back in the motion of being on the mound and throwing all my pitches. I got up and down twice and threw 40 pitches."
Friday's starters do not have the added injury concern, nor do they have experience against the teams they will face. Neither Rodriguez nor Paddack has ever faced the other team.
The Red Sox did take two of three from the Padres at Petco Park in 2013, but the Padres are 10-7 in interleague games this year entering their final interleague series of the season.
Rodriguez, 26, has already posted a career-high 14 wins and has become the team's top starter in the absence of Price and Chris Sale, who could be out for the rest of the season with an elbow issue. In his last start, Rodriguez shut out the Orioles on four hits and two walks with four strikeouts over 7 1/3 innings.
Paddack, 23, will be making his 22nd start as the Padres continue to monitor his innings by giving the 2016 Tommy John patient extra time between his starts. This start comes a week after he gave up five runs (four earned) on nine hits and a walk with six strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings in Philadelphia.
"It's just not what Chris does this season," said Padres manager Andy Green. "We're protecting him now for both his and the Padres' future."
Over his last three starts, Paddack has given up 13 earned runs on 20 hits in 14 2/3 innings. Before that, he had allowed only eight runs on 19 hits in 34 2/3 innings in his previous six starts.
--Field Level Media