Series Preview #17, vs. San Diego Padres

Mike Stobe

Arizona looks to finally break out of the NL West cellar, capitalizing on a strong start to May as they return home to play the San Diego Padres.

What's New?

The Diamondbacks return to their home ballpark (and to a retractable roof!) after concluding their six-game road trip at 2-4. After Friday's series opener was rained out in Queens, Arizona was forced to play the Mets in three games over the course of three days. After their "off-day" Friday night, the Diamondbacks kicked off their series strong on Saturday night, as Josh Collmenter (6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 4 K) out-dueled Zach Wheeler to a 3-2 win. It was yet another pitcher's duel in the morning end of Sunday's doubleheader, as both Bronson Arroyo and Rafael Montero posted strong performances until Arizona scored in the ninth inning on a costly error in the 2-1 win. In going for their first sweep of the season, the Diamondbacks called up right hander Zeke Spruill from Triple-A Reno to be the designated 26th man on the major league roster to make the start in the second leg of Sunday's doubleheader. Spruill was solid in spot duty, giving up three runs in 5.1 innings, but was outdone by a strong performance from fellow spot starter Daisuke Matsuzaka in a 4-2 loss.

Arizona has struggled to put runs on the board as of late, scoring a grand total of 11 runs over the past road trip (1.83 runs/game). They currently stand at 20th in the majors in runs scored, and are hitting .251 as a team this season. Where the bats struggled, the Diamondbacks pitching staff excelled. Arizona's arms gave up five runs or less in every game on the road trip, bringing their team ERA to 4.63 on the season. While it still sits them at 29th in the majors, it provides some optimism as the rest of the season unfolds. The Diamondbacks have now won five of their last seven series, and sit at 20-32 on the season, 13 games behind the first-place San Francisco Giants in the NL West. Arizona is also returning to Chase Field, where they are 6-18 on the season.

The Padres have the league's statistically worst offense this season (156 runs in 50 games), hitting just .221 as a team and posting a .278 on-base percentage in 2014. They're even worse on the road this season, hitting .203 outside of pitcher-friendly Petco Park this season. However, they have the fourth best pitching staff in baseball (3.11 ERA), holding batters to a .234 batting average this season. They do tend, however, to revert back to league average outside of Petco Park, falling back to 13th in the majors (3.78 ERA) when on the road.

San Diego comes into Arizona coming off of a 2-4 home stand, which featured a two-game sweep against the Twins and a split against the Chicago Cubs. They've also won just four of their last ten games, struggling and falling almost within reach of last place.They've struggled in the NL West (7-11), including losing a series at home against the Diamondbacks earlier in May. They're currently sitting at 23-28, 9.5 games behind the Giants in the NL West.

On The Mend

San Diego right hander Andrew Cashner played catch on Saturday since being placed on the disabled list with elbow issues, according to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Roster Moves

San Diego traded catcher Nick Hundley on Saturday to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for left handed reliever Troy Patton. The southpaw is expected to add to a bullpen that is already amongst the best in baseball (2.13 ERA).

The Padres elected to designate right handers Blaine Boyer and Billy Buckner for assignment; in a resulting move, they recalled first baseman Tommy Medica from Triple-A El Paso.

Can't Kill The Snake

The Arizona Diamondbacks opened up the 2014 season with their worst April in franchise history, going 9-19 (9-21 overall) through the beginning of May. But don't sleep on them just yet.

Since the beginning of the month, Arizona is 11-10, finally showing the potential that many pundits expected to see when this roster was originally constructed. With a series sweep this week, the Diamondbacks can close the gap with San Diego to up to half a game, opening the door for the club to finally get out of last place.

In May, the Diamondbacks have scored 73 runs (3.84 runs/game), and have hit about .261, getting on base around 31 percent of the time. However, the biggest improvement has been the pitching staff. The Diamondbacks are 12th in the majors in May in team ERA (3.69), up from their last place mark for the regular season.

Having won five of their last seven series, the Diamondbacks just might be rounding into form, and could prove to be a tough team to face down the stretch of the season.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1, Monday 5:10 PT: RHP Tyson Ross (5-4, 2.64 ERA, 3.62 FIP) vs. RHP Brandon McCarthy (1-6, 4.67 ERA, 3.80 FIP)

Ross has made a habit of going deep into starts, going past the seventh inning in six of his last eight starts. In those starts, he has gone 6-2 with a 2.32 ERA. Ross has been extremely consistent, giving up one run in seven innings pitched in each of his last four starts, including his loss Wednesday. McCarthy has been inconsistent of late, and took the no-decision after giving up one run over six innings against St. Louis in his last start. He has had great success against San Diego, going 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA in those outings.

Game 2, Tuesday 6:40 PT: LHP Eric Stults (2-5, 4.97 ERA, 4.91 FIP) vs. LHP Wade Miley (3-4, 4.81 ERA, 4.61 FIP)

Stults struggled in his last outing, giving up five runs on six hits in 4.2 innings in a loss against the Cubs. Despite his strong start (no-hitter through four), the wheels came off for Stults as he picked up yeah another loss. He is winless (0-4) in five road starts this season. Miley was solid his last time out, picking up the loss in St. Louis after giving up three runs in 6.2 innings. He's given up three or more in four of his last five outings, and has not won a start since May 10th.

Game 3, Wednesday 6:40 PM: RHP Tim Stauffer (2-0, 1.89 ERA, 3.05 FIP) vs. RHP Chase Anderson (2-0, 5.06 ERA, 6.05 FIP)

Saurer was great on short rest his last time out, giving up no runs on two hits in five innings pitched in the win over the Cubs. He has yet to give up more than two earned runs in any outing this season, coming up huge she taking Robbie Erlin's spot in the starting rotation. Anderson had his start cut short Friday due to wealther, and the rookie right hander will try to become the first ever pitcher in Diamondbacks history to win their first three starts as a Diamondback in his career.

Series Pick'em

I think the Diamondbacks keep rolling here, winning at least two of three games to bring Arizona within a series of breaking into fourth place in the NL West. While the series opener looks to be a challenge, I'd say Miley's consistency this season gives him an advantage Tuesday, and I think that Wednesday will be yet another short outing for Stauffer as he picks up him first loss of the season. A win gives them six series wins in their last eight tries.

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