Series Preview #22: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Diego Padres

USA TODAY Sports

Setting: A bar

San Diego Padres: /swigs can of Tecate Light. "It's like, they don't even notice us, you know? Man, we've been in this division together for, like, a bunch of years and they just don't even care."

Arizona Diamondbacks: "I know, man. And, like, we shouldn't even care about them, know what I mean? They suck. They spent a bunch of money on guys, and they still suck. It's like, get off your high horse already."

Padres: "But no, they think they're so important, just because they won a few titles like a long time ago."

Diamondbacks: "And now they have idiot bandwagon fans in all of our stadiums..."

Padres: "Showing up late and leaving early..."

Diamondbacks: "And whenever they get some fancy new player..."

Padres: "The media makes it 'Mannywood' all over again..."

Diamondbacks: "It just makes you want to..."

Padres: "I feel like I need to..."

Unison: "...beat the s**t out of Zack Greinke!"

(They look at each other, as if for the first time. Link.)

Diamondbacks: "You know, who even needs the Dodgers? They don't care about us. They're still fixated on those nerds from San Francisco."

Padres: "Yeah. We can have our own rivalry!"

Diamondbacks: "Who cares about the media? We don't need media attention to know that Chase Headley and Paul Goldschmidt are awesome! It'll just be about you and me."

Padres: "Darn right! We can go back to my place!"

Diamondbacks: "Well, I don't know about that, Petco's sorta..."

Padres: "Every game will be a pitching nightmare!"

Diamondbacks: "Yeah, I mean, that's not really what I had in mind..."

Padres: "Think of all the Wade Miley/Jason Marquis matchups!"

Diamondbacks: "You're not really selling this at all..."

Padres: "So, what'd'ya say?"

Diamondbacks: "Yeah, I mean, on second thought...You guys are great, really, it's just...I mean, we're in first place...It wouldn't look good."

Padres: "Oh..."

Diamondbacks: "Look, once you guys get some healthy pitchers, I dunno, maybe we can talk?"

Padres: "You know as well as I do that will never, ever happen."

What the Stats Say (Courtesy of Fangraphs):


Arizona
(37-29)
San Diego
(32-34)
Edge
Hitting (wRC+): 94 102
San Diego
Pitching (ERA-/FIP-):
96/95 121/126
Arizona
Fielding (UZR):
12.6 9.6

Arizona

DISCLAIMER: These first two numbers are park-adjusted, which is normally fine, because I think it gives a more accurate sense of how teams are doing relative to their environment. However, Fangraphs uses a five-year park adjustment, which doesn't take into account things like Petco changing its dimensions, for example. So use the Padre park factors at your own risk.

Unfortunately, the punch line to this series of Padre jokes is that the Padres are playing really well at the moment. Since starting off the season 5-15, San Diego has put up a really quiet 27-19 record that has them way closer to the division lead than anyone should be comfortable with.

Also, they're doing this despite getting -2.2 fWAR from their pitching staff. I think I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: this team, which plays half of their games in what's still one of the most pitcher-friendly environments in baseball, would be right in the playoff race with a rotation that's even replacement level, let alone average.

Arizona Diamondbacks

1. Gerardo Parra, RF
2. Willie Bloomquist, 2B
3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
4. Miguel Montero, C
5. Martin Prado, 3B
6. Cody Ross, LF
7. Didi Gregorius, SS
8. A.J. Pollock, CF

San Diego Padres

1. Everth Cabrera, SS
2. Chris Denorfia, CF
3. Chase Headley, 3B
4. Carlos Quentin, LF
5. Kyle Blanks, 1B
6. Will Venable, RF
7. Logan Forsythe, 2B
8. Yasmani Grandal, C

After the trip to visit the Dodgers, you'll forgive me if I don't feel sorry for anyone else's injury situation for a while. But even if it isn't on the same scale, the Padres have had some problems keeping regulars healthy.

Two years ago, Cameron Maybin had a breakout year and, at 24, he looked like a rising star in Center Field. And the Padres evidently agreed, because they gave him a 5 year/$25 million contract. Since then, he had a down year last year and has been injured multiple times and in multiple different ways this year. This is just another example of why the Padres should never spend money on anything ever.

In a related story, Jedd "Jerko" Gyorko started getting credit for being good outside of the San Diego-Escondido Metropolitan Area, so of course he had to get injured. Logan Forsythe, who was sneaky good for 350 PAs last year, steps in.

6' 6" Kyle Blanks has been the Padres LF/1B/NBA Power Forward of the future since about 2008. With Yonder Alonso expected to miss about a month with a hand contusion, this might be Blanks' last chance to convince Bud Black he doesn't have to find himself a new giant. Princess Bride reference.

Also, it's a testament to the Padres' surprising depth that not only are they still hitting well and winning without these starters, but they've weathered a huge slump from Chase Headley as well. In his last 3o games, he's hit .170/.290/.241. Or as Petco Park calls it, "league average." Kidding. Kind of.

Pitching Matchups:

Friday: Trevor Cahill (3-7, 4.07) vs. Eric Stults (5-5, 3.53)

Insightful Commentary: On the one hand, Cahill has faced two pretty good offenses in his last two starts. On the other hand, literally everything else about those two starts. ERA of 13.50, K:BB of 3:4, release point of somewhere it shouldn't be. I'm inclined to chalk it up to just being a rough patch, but let's not pretend it hasn't been impressively rough.

Eric Stults is a 33-year-old minor league journeyman who has also doubled as the Padres' best pitcher this year. While that seems like it says more about the Padres than Stults, let's give him some credit here. So far at least, he's finally gotten his Walk Rate down to the point where his middling K-Rate isn't a liability. In other words, he's a late-blooming Padre Pitcher (TM).

Saturday: Wade Miley (4-5, 4.89) vs. Clayton Richard (1-5, 8.06)

Insightful Commentary: Nothing Miley has done in his last two starts has convinced me that he's "found himself," but the overall results have been noticeably better than the previous month or so. Two straight Quality Starts, even if he has given up 20 hits in 12.2 innings during those starts. Somewhere along the line, we've reverted back to September 2011 Miley, who we watched with the same alternating mix of terror and relief that we might feel while watching a drunk on a balance beam.

Find me a pitcher less qualified to still be making starts than Clayton Richard. I'll wait. And please keep in mind that not only is Richard's ERA over 8, but his FIP is 7.23, so it isn't like he's just getting BABIP'd to death. Also, his K:BB is perilously close to one. No other full-time starter even comes close in any of these categories.

Sunday: N/A vs. Jason Marquis (8-2, 3.59)

Insightful Commentary: The Diamondbacks' website says Ian Kennedy for this start, but I'm guessing that MLB is going to intervene between now and then. Look for Josh Collmenter or Tyler Skaggs here.

Jason Marquis and FIP just don't get along. A mutual friend introduced them in 2004, when both Marquis and FIP were just getting started, and Dave Duncan whispered "Don't trust that guy" in Marquis' ear, and Marquis and FIP have been enemies ever since. FIP keeps trying to tear Marquis down, telling him that he's no good because he "doesn't strike anyone out" and "walks a crap-ton of guys more often than not," like those are even things that should matter to pitchers. Well, maybe they do to some guys, but not to Jason Marquis.

Three Pressing Questions:

No, seriously, are there really no better options than Clayton Richard? There aren't a ton of options, because if the Padres' 60-day DL broke off and formed its own team, it would have a pretty decent rotation. But there are some: Tyson Ross, Anthony Bass, and Tim Stauffer have all started games in the past and been decent, and prospect Robbie Erlin was just called up for a spot start.

If I had to guess, they're clinging to Richard because he's been decent to good in the past, and because he's all that's left of the Jake Peavy trade. Hopefully the first thing matters more than the second, but you never know.

Why didn't Quentin just wait for his pitcher to hit Zack Greinke, rather than charging the mound? There are two possibilities: the first is that Quentin had a different take on the Unwritten Rules of Baseball, which is blasphemy because the Unwritten Rules of Baseball are perfect and not subject to the interpretation of mere mortals.

The second is that Andrew Cashner was pitching, and Andrew Cashner's aim is so bad that he aims at the guy standing in the batter's box whenever he wants to hit the outside corner.

Beer of the Series? This isn't going to be a recurring thing like it used to be at Lookout Landing, but I spent some time beer tasting in San Diego, and I have thoughts about it. I had excellent luck at Ballast Point Brewing, particularly with the Black Marlin Porter. Also, AleSmith's signature beer is the wonderful Horny Devil, one of the best Belgians in the country (in the opinion of people who know more about beer than I do).

(All numbers via Fangraphs or Baseball-Reference unless otherwise indicated.)

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