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Series Preview #49: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Diego Padres

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Although the season isn't over yet, the Diamondbacks have a good chance at winning the NL West for the first time since 2007. As such, I'd like to take a moment to thank some of the people who have made the 2011 Diamondbacks season so fantastic: namely, everyone associated with the Dodgers, Rockies and Padres major league franchises. In 2011, the Diamondbacks have a record of 32-16 against the dregs of the NL West, which is good for a winning percentage of .667.

Each of these three teams has struggled in their own special way this season, from horrible injury luck (Rockies) to ownership mishaps (Dodgers) to replacing Adrian Gonzalez with Brad Hawpe and expecting everything to work out fine (Padres). But these teams were able to channel their misfortune, directing it toward the noble goal of not letting the Giants win the division. It's been fantastic, guys, we really appreciate it.

Just keep it up for a few more series, mmkay?

Unfortunately, the Padres deviated slightly from the plan this week, getting swept by the Giants in San Francisco. This only goes to prove that the Padres are selfish, greedy double-agents. This is the only action the Padres have been involved in since the last time we played them over last weekend. Couldn't get enough of that riveting Tim Stauffer/Wade Miley matchup last weekend? You'll get to watch the whole thing again! NL WEST BASEBALL!

What the Stats Say (According to Fangraphs):

San Diego
Hitting (wRC+): 95 89
Pitching (FIP-):
99 107
Fielding (UZR):
57.6 15.6

The numbers haven't changed a whole lot since the last time we looked at the Padres, but I'd like to take a moment to appreciate the Diamondbacks' FIP- dropping below 100 for the first time in what seems like forever. Way to be very slightly above-average, Diamondback pitchers!

Starting Lineups:

Arizona Diamondbacks

1. Ryan Roberts, 3B
2. Gerardo Parra, LF
3. Justin Upton, RF
4. Miguel Montero, C
5. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
6. Chris Young, CF
7. Aaron Hill, 2B
8. John McDonald, SS

San Diego Padres

1. Will Venable, RF
2. Jason Bartlett, SS
3. Cameron Maybin, CF
4. Jesus Guzman, 1B
5. Orlando Hudson, 2B
6. Kyle Blanks, LF
7. Nick Hundley, C
8. James Darnell, 3B

You know the gist of this already. Cameron Maybin is annoying because he runs really fast and the Padres got him in exchange for a reliever, Jesus Guzman came out of nowhere and that's exciting, Nick Hundley is better than you think, yada yada yada. So instead, here's a list of Padre players as movie character stereotypes. For actual substantive analysis of the Padres' lineup (perish the thought!), go ahead and revisit this.

1. "William P. Venable" is the name of a creepy, rich uncle from a horror movie who lets his niece throw wild parties in his mansion when he's away. But little does she know... ::evil laugh::

2. "Jason Bartlett" is a high-powered executive at a Los Angeles advertising agency who thinks he has it all figured out. But he learns, through wacky hijinks and a visit from Katherine Heigl, that life doesn't always go according to plan in this zany romantic comedy.

3."Cameron Maybin" is the lead in a Oscar-baiting drama about a former rapper who threw it all away because of drugs and alcohol, only to work his way back to his former glory. Starring Chris Rock!

4. "Jesus Guzman" is a honest, hardscrabble New York City police chief from a crime drama. Also, he has seen some crazy sh*t in his 30 years on the force, let him tell you.

5. "Orlando Hudson" is the renegade cop on Jesus Guzman's staff who makes his own justice and doesn't play by society's rules. He may or may not get partnered with Jackie Chan.

6. "Kyle Blanks" is a for-hire mercenary who does it all for the love of his family. But when terrorists capture that family, it's up to Blanks to rescue them with a whole bunch of big guns and explosions all set to a soundtrack that features a lot of Saliva songs.

7. Nick Hundley is the chubby sidekick in a children's movie about friendship and pains of fitting in.

8. "James Darnell" is the starting third baseman in a movie about a last-place baseball team.

See? That was still more interesting than the real-life Padres.

Pitching Matchups:

Friday: Wade Miley (3-1, 4.50) vs. Tim Stauffer (8-12, 3.87)

Insightful Commentary: So, this looks familiar. This was the last start for either pitcher. Miley got knocked around a bit in that game, surrendering five earned runs in five innings. This shouldn't be that much of a surprise, as we all knew that all those baserunners would eventually come back to hurt Miley. The question now is whether he can keep it from happening again.

Tim Stauffer fared slightly better, going 5.1 innings and giving up 3 runs. In other words, he produced exactly the sort of "meh" line that Padres Pitchers (TM) often produce when taken out of Petco Park.

Saturday: Josh Collmenter (9-9, 3.40) vs. Wade LeBlanc (3-5, 5.43)

Insightful Commentary: Not to worry anyone, but it's worth mentioning that every starter in the Diamondbacks rotation, with the exception of Joe Saunders, has exceeded their career-high of professional innings pitched in 2011. So when we see lines like Collmenter's in his last start against the Padres, where he gave up 6 runs in 4 innings, its worth wondering if he's dealing with a case of dead arm. It's probably nothing, but it's worth keeping in mind if he keeps struggling.

Wade LeBlanc was spotted a 7-0 lead through five innings, and did his darndest to cough it up. He was taken out after allowing a Henry Blanco home run and loading the bases, but his baserunners let the Diamondbacks back into the game. LeBlanc probably isn't as bad as his ERA currently indicates, but he is decidedly not a good pitcher.

Sunday: Joe Saunders (11-12, 3.83) vs. Aaron Harang (13-6, 3.85)

Insightful Commentary: Joe Saunders has quietly started being kind of okay again, with an ERA of 2.84 over his last four starts. He still isn't striking out that many batters, and he is still walking too many, but at this point that hardly even seems worth mentioning. Joe Saunders is who he is at this point: he makes things hard on himself, but tends to get out his jams. If you believe in "grit" and "making the right pitch at the right time," Saunders embodys these things when he's on. And if you believe it's all batted-ball luck, then, who knows, it's lasted this long into the season...

Aaron Harang's bugaboo in his last few seasons has been the home run ball, and his move to Petco this year has certainly helped that aspect of his game. Unfortunately, his mediocre walk-rate still keeps him from achieve success as a front-line pitcher, as his FIP in 2011 (4.14) is identical to his career average.

Final Verdict: The Diamondbacks tend to struggle at Petco Park, but they're also red-hot and the Padres look like a team that just wants to be done with this season. I learned my lesson last week: keep picking the Diamondbacks against inferior opponents until they give you a reason to do otherwise. They haven't given me that reason yet. Diamondbacks two games to one.

Head over to Gaslamp Ball to see the best Padre-pandering on the internet.

All batting data courtesy of Baseball-Reference unless otherwise mentioned, all pitching data courtesy of Fangraphs.