Padres vs. Mets Wild Card Series Game 3 starting lineups, pitching matchup

NEW YORK – As outfielder Brandon Nimmo put it, Major League Baseball’s new best-of-three Wild Card format is no longer relevant to the Mets and Padres. San Diego won Game 1 of this National League Wild Card Series. New York won Game 2. That means both teams will line up for a winner-take-all Game 3 on Sunday night, with a trip to Los Angeles and the NL Division Series on the line.

“This is fun baseball,” Mets first baseman Pete Alonso said. “Like, I’m just so excited to come to the field tomorrow. This is what it’s for. We’re going to come ready to go.”

Although the Mets and Padres are deep into their rotations now, both will place a trusted pitcher on the mound for Game 3, with Chris Bassitt and Joe Musgrove set to start. Both are veterans. Both will be ready to feed off what is sure to be another sold-out crowd at Citi Field.

“You can’t avoid it … the nerves are there regardless of the start,” Musgrove said. “Could be Opening Day. Could be mid-June. Could be a postseason game. I always feel the nerves and the anxiety and the anxiousness getting ready for a start.”

Added Bassitt: “This is why we came. This is why we built the group that we built for the playoffs. The division obviously didn’t work out the way we wanted it to, but overall, we’ve got a chance to win it all.”

When is the game and how can I watch it?
Wild Card Series Game 3 is scheduled for 7:07 pm ET on Sunday at Citi Field (4:07 pm PT). It will be broadcast on ESPN, with a team of Carl Ravech, David Cone, Eduardo Pérez and Buster Olney.

All series are available in the US on MLB.TV with authentication to a participating Pay TV provider. Games are not available live internationally. (Archives are available approximately 90 minutes after the game ends.)

What are the starting lineups?
Padres: Facing a third right-hander in as many nights, the Padres’ lineup remains relatively unchanged, with the only difference from Game 2 being Wil Myers playing first base and batting sixth instead of Brandon Drury, who went 0-for-4 on Saturday:

Mets: With a right-hander back on the mound in Musgrove, the Mets will go back to something similar to their Game 1 lineup, although manager Buck Showalter will use Starling Marte in the No. 2 holes like he did in Game 2.

Who are the starting pitchers?
Padres: Musgrove is starting to look like Musgrove again. He was excellent early in the season, then struggled during the second half. But over his final four starts, Musgrove allowed just one run in 22 innings.

“I feel really prepared,” Musgrove said. “I like where I’m at physically, delivery-wise. Done a lot of homework over the past week and a half on these guys, so I know what I want to do. It just ultimately comes down to execution. Excited to get out there and see what I can do.”

For Musgrove, it’s a return to the postseason stage after a five-year absence. He was an Astros reliever when they won the 2017 World Series.

Mets: He may not be Max Scherzer or Jacob deGrom, but the Mets have plenty of confidence in Bassitt (15-9, 3.42 ERA), who led the team in starts and innings during the regular season and tied for the club lead in wins.

Bassitt has pitched two previous postseason games for the A’s — in 2020 and ’21 — the first one excellent, the next one less so. He has largely been consistent for the Mets this season, although that reputation took a hit in September and into October, when Bassitt endured two starts of less than four innings. He believes those issues are in his past.

“I think it was just me trying too hard instead of just trusting your ability, trusting your stuff, and really just pounding the zone,” Bassitt said of his last such outing, a loss in Atlanta. “Then it’s, ‘Whatever happens, happens.’ That’s who I am. I’m a contact pitcher, and walking guys is not really acceptable for me.”

How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Padres: The Padres wanted Game 2. But if they couldn’t win Game 2, this is precisely how they’d like to have it lined up for Game 3. Setup men Luis García and Robert Suarez weren’t used on Saturday, and they’ ll serve as the bridge to closer Josh Hader. The only Padres reliever who is likely unavailable is right-hander Nick Martinez, who pitched 2 2/3 innings in relief of Blake Snell. Still, the Padres managed to preserve most of their high-leverage arms on Saturday.

Mets: The most significant question revolves around closer Edwin Díaz, who threw 28 pitches and recorded five outs in Game 2, sitting for approximately 45 minutes between innings as the Mets broke open the game. Díaz should be available in some form, but on every previous occasion this season when he threw at least 28 pitches or recorded at least four outs, he received at least one day of rest before his next outing. It’s difficult to predict how Díaz might respond after such a workload. (For his part, Díaz said he would be available for more than three outs if needed.)

Top setup man Adam Ottavino could also be unavailable, or at least severely limited, after needing 35 pitches to record three outs in Game 2. He also received extra rest after all of his multi-inning outings during the regular season. And Seth Lugo has pitched on back-to-back nights; he’s never pitched on three straight days in his career.

Any injuries of note?
Padres: None, although Mike Clevinger was left off the postseason roster as he battled a non-COVID illness. The Padres anticipate Clevinger to be available moving forward, should they advance.

Mets: Although Marte is still feeling discomfort in the fractured right middle finger that sidelined him for most of September, he collected two hits in Game 1 and hit the ball hard multiple times in Game 2. There are no indications that Marte is incapable of continuing to post up daily in the starting lineup.

Before Game 2, the Mets removed Joely Rodríguez from their roster due to a shoulder injury. He is ineligible to return until the NL Championship Series, leaving the Mets with only one left-hander — David Peterson — in their bullpen.

Who is hot and who is not?
Padres: Profar has reached base in five of his nine trips to the plate this series and continues to serve as the ideal table-setter for Soto and Machado. Grisham, meanwhile, became just the third Padre to homer in consecutive playoff games, joining Ken Caminiti in 1996 and Jim Leyritz in ’98. On the flip side, Jake Cronenworth has started his postseason 0-for-8.

Mets: Is anyone hotter than Nimmo? He went 6-for-8 with two homers and two doubles over his final two regular-season games, before adding a triple in Game 1 and reaching base safely four times in Game 2. Alonso, who homered in Game 2, is riding a seven-game hitting streak dating to the final five games of the regular season.

Anything else fans might want to know?
• If anyone is familiar with Bassitt, it’s Padres manager Bob Melvin, who managed him in Oakland from 2015-21. “I’m sure happy as heck to see them,” Bassitt said of Melvin and former A’s teammate Sean Manaea, who is also on the Padres, “but I hope we beat them.”

• The Padres faltered twice in do-or-die regular-season games in 2007 and ’10. But they’ve never lost a winner-take-all postseason game, beating the Cubs in Game 5 of the 1984 NLCS and the Cardinals in Game 3 of the 2020 Wild Card Series.

• The Mets are 3-4 when it’s a win-or-go-home situation for both teams. They lost their last such game, in 2016 against the Giants. They won the previous one, in 2015 NL Division Series Game 5 against the Dodgers.

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