Series Preview #10, @ San Diego Padres

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Diamondbacks try to bounce back from their worst April in franchise history, kicking off a nine-game road trip against their NL West rivals in San Diego.

What's New?

Another home stand, another losing record for Arizona, as the club went 2-4 against the Phillies and the Rockies. While the home stand started (5-3 win Friday) and ended (5-4 walk-off win in 10 innings Wednesday) well, what remains concerning is the four-game losing streak in between, which saw the Diamondbacks struggle to come up with key hits in close games. It appears that every time the Diamondbacks start to improve upon one problem (ex. starting pitching in the Phillies series), it is seemingly undone the next, or a new problem arises.

Despite Wednesday night's exciting 5-4 walk-off win against the Rockies, it seems quite unlikely that the Diamondbacks will come back and "make history", as catcher Miguel Montero said after his walk-off blast. In fact, it looks harder and harder, with each passing series, to see the Diamondbacks even return to the .500 level this year much less the playoff contention that general manager Kevin Towers promised prior to the season. The Diamondbacks capped off the month of April at 9-22, their worst April mark in Diamondbacks franchise history.

The Padres come into the series after dropping two of three from the Giants as a part of a 4-6 road trip against playoff contenders such as Milwaukee, Washington, and San Francisco. San Diego is returning home to Petco Park, where they have gone 7-6 this season, and have maintained the ninth best team ERA in baseball (while Arizona is dead last) at 3.26. The Padres have won three of their last five home games, and are 13-16 overall, 4.5 games behind the first place Giants and 5 games ahead of last-place Arizona. Despite their pitching exploits, they currently have the league's worst offense (last in runs, 29th in batting average, last in on-base percentage), which is a main reason why they have gone just 6-10 on the road this season.

On The Mend

Diamondbacks right hander and prospect Archie Bradley was placed on the seven-day minor league disabled list with a strained elbow flexor on his right pitching elbow. Bradley, the second best pitching prospect and ninth best overall prospect according to Baseball America, will start a throwing program after two weeks of rest.

Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko was reinstated off of the paternity list Wednesday back onto the major league roster. Gyorko has hit .151 in 2014 with one home run and nine RBIs.

San Diego outfielder Seth Smith is still listed as day-to-day with a groin injury that kept him out of the lineup Tuesday, Smith came in to pinch-hit in the ninth inning Tuesday, and was in the lineup Wednesday, going 0 for 4 in San Diego's 3-2 loss.

Roster Moves

The Diamondbacks optioned outfielder Roger Kieschnick to Triple-A Reno; recall outfielder Ender Inciarte from Triple-A Reno. Kieschnick was acquired April 4th from the San Francisco Giants. Inciarte was unable to join the team Wednesday due to travel issues, but is expected to meet the team in San Diego.

Powerless Padres?

Did someone lock San Diego's bats in the Western Metal Supply Co. building in left field? Just kidding.

While the Padres' struggles at Petco Park can be partially explained by the park itself (known as extremely pitcher-friendly since its 2004 inception and alterations in 2006 and 2012), some of the disappointing performances have to be blamed on the players and manager Bud Black. Despite having a lineup that was expected to boast future stars such as Jedd Gyorko, Yonder Alonso, and Yasmani Grandal, the Padres have scored the least amount of runs (77) in the majors and have the worst batting average (.217) in the National League. A lot of it has to do with the trio's production so far in 2014:

  • Gyorko: .151/.221/.215 with one home run and nine RBIs in 27 games
  • Alonso: .167/.198/.229 with no home runs and five home runs in 28 games
  • Grandal: .254/.343/.424 with two home runs and six RBIs in 23 games

Though there is room for turnaround with these young talents, they and the rest of the Padres lineup have had more than their share of struggles at home, where they average just 3.0 runs per game and are hitting .239. They haven't been able to hit the long ball through the ocean layer either, as they rank second-worst in the National League (fourth-worst in the majors) with nine home runs at home this season. The trip could provide relief for a beleaguered Arizona pitching staff that has a 5.20 ERA this season (worst in baseball) and has given up a .271 batting average to hitters this season.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1, Friday 7:10 PT: RHP Bronson Arroyo (1-2, 7.77 ERA) vs. Andrew Cashner (2-3, 2.68 ERA)

Arroyo goes into Friday night's matchup coming off his best outing of the season, where he gave up two runs over 6.1 innings, leaving with a 5-2 lead only to have the bullpen blow it in the eighth inning. The veteran right hander has gone at least five innings in each of his previous two road starts, going 1-1 with a 6.99 ERA outside of Chase Field in 2014. He has had plenty of trouble so far in the season, giving up a .346 batting average to hitters and posting a 1.81 WHIP through the first month of the season. Cashner, who was San Diego's Opening Day starter, opened the season with four consecutive quality starts, including a complete game one hit shutout against Detroit on April 11th. Since then, he has given up four earned runs in each of his last two starts, and he has gone six innings or more in every outing this season. Cashner is 2-0 with a 0.81 ERA at home this season, yielding a batting average of .175 to hitters.

Game 2, Saturday 5:40 PT: RHP Brandon McCarthy (0-5, 5.44 ERA) vs. Ian Kennedy (2-3, 3.16 ERA)

Both pitchers are also coming off their best outings, as McCarthy was left on the short end of a 2-0 loss Sunday after giving up two runs in seven innings and striking out 12 batters, dropping him to 0-5 on the season. McCarthy has gone at least five innings in each of his starts this season, and he has given up three earned runs or less in his last three appearances. He is 0-2 with a 5.73 ERA in his previous two road starts. Kennedy, a former Diamondback, has had renewed success in his first full season in San Diego, with three or less earned runs in all but one of his starts so far. Kennedy was impressive his last time out, allowing one run in seven innings in a win over the Nationals, throwing 117 pitches to do so. Kennedy has struggled, however, at home this season, going 0-3 with a .500 ERA in three starts.

Game 3, Sunday 1:10 PM PT: LHP Wade Miley (2-3, 5.36 ERA) vs. RHP Tyson Ross (3-3, 3.68 ERA)

Miley had his worst outing in 2014 by far, giving up seven runs in six innings in picking up the loss 8-5 on Monday. The left hander had been consistent all season for Arizona, but has not picked up a win since April 6th, going 0-2 in that stretch. The left hander has been impressive away this season, being 1-0 with a 2.87 ERA in his three road starts, and is 1-4 with a 4.04 ERA in six career games at Petco. Ross had a great start to 2014, giving up three runs or less in first first four starts, including a eight inning, nine strikeout shutout performance against San Francisco on April 18th. Since then, Ross has given up five and four runs in his last two starts, but got the win Monday against the Giants. Ross had great success against the Diamondbacks last season, being 1-1 with a 1.96 ERA in four appearances (three starts), striking out 20 hitters in 23 innings of work. He is 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA at home this season, striking out a staggering 1.15 batters per inning in three starts.

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