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Series Preview #27: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Diego Padres

Gurl look at that Padre.
Gurl look at that Padre.

So, if you're reading this, chances are you're a Diamondback fan. And if you're a Diamondback fan, chances are you aren't very happy with the results from that road-trip. While going 2-4 is always disappointing, it becomes rather more so when the only thing separating it from a 3-3 road-trip is losing a series to your hated rivals* on a Tony Plush RBI and a walk-off double error. That is less than fun.

*This asterisk doubles as a commentary on our rivalry with the Brewers and a Ryan Braun joke.

But, you know what? It's a good sign that we're still angry about baseball, because it means that we still have a reason to be invested in the process as fans. We're five games back of the division, and there's still plenty of season left to make up that deficit. There's still a reason to care. And that sets us apart from the Padres, who stopped caring months ago.

That's probably unfair. The Padres care, because it's their job and they have to do this. And Padre fans care at least a little, because that's in the job description of being a "fan." But they've given up hope that this season will yield a profitable result. The Padres are 30-50, which ties them for the worst record in all of baseball. OK, I guess technically they're percentage points ahead of the Cubs. I'm sure Padre fans are very protective about those percentage points. Actually, I'm not sure of that at all, because Padre fans currently have no reason to care about the day-to-day results of their team.

But it's not just the losing itself, baseball fans (and probably Padre fans in particular) build up a certain immunity to losing over time. It's the hopelessness of knowing that the mathematical chances of your favorite team making the playoffs is essentially zero...and still having 80 more games to go. It messes with you as a fan, calls your priorities into question. The Diamondbacks haven't had to deal with a season like that since 2010, and while some teams obviously have to suffer through it, it's not a fate I wish upon anyone.

What the Stats Say (According to Fangraphs):

San Diego
Hitting (wRC+): 97 88
Pitching (FIP-):
92 117
Fielding (UZR):
16.2 -1.1

I'm not breaking any new ground by informing you that the Padres are not very good at hitting. That joke has been writing itself since about 2007. No, the new break in the case is the pitching, which separates this awful Padres squad from the mediocre Padres of years past. Petco Park can act sort of like an overly supportive parent for pitchers, coddling mediocre pitchers into believing they're good. So when I say that the team has collectively pitched like 2012 Josh Collmenter (Collmenter's FIP: 4.35, Padres' FIP: 4.29), without even factoring in park effects, I want you to understand how amazingly low their true talent level really is.

Also, the Diamondbacks have the fifth-lowest FIP- in baseball. This feels wonky to people other than me, right?

Starting Lineups:

Arizona Diamondbacks

1. Stephen Drew, SS
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Justin Upton, RF
4. Jason Kubel, LF
5. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
6. Miguel Montero, C
7. Chris Young, CF
8. Ryan Roberts, 3B

San Diego Padres

1. Chris Denorfia, RF
2. Logan Forsythe, 2B
3. Chase Headley, 3B
4. Carlos Quentin, LF
5. Yonder Alonso, 1B
6. Cameron Maybin, CF
7. Everth Cabrera, SS
8. Yasmani Grandal, C

You've read more than 500 hundred words on the Padres. Here are some haikus as a reward.

  • Chris Denorfia:

    Walks a bit, has pop
    Need generic fourth OF?
    Chris Denorfia.
  • Logan Forsythe:

    Former top prospect
    Hey, at least he's not Hudson
    Better than you think
  • Chase Headley:

    Patience and power
    God, how's he still a Padre?
    'least 'til Trade Deadline.
  • Carlos Quentin:

    @$#$# @*&
    $%$%# $%#@ #%+$
    Chris %$#@ing Carter!
  • Yonder Alonso:
    Was this worth Latos?
    Started on fire, rough June
    What's Rizzo up to?
  • Cameron Maybin:

    Signs off-season deal
    Promptly becomes terrible:
    Padre infection.
  • Everth Cabrera:

    Slappy, no power.
    He'll stay with the Padres for
    Ever and Everth
  • Yasmani Grandal:
    Top hundred prospect,
    Also, fought with Beowulf.
    Aww, damn it, wrong guy.

Pitching Matchups:

Monday: Trevor Cahill (6-6, 3.67) vs. Clayton Richard (5-8, 3.77)

Insightful Commentary: Ugh, Trevor, I really thought we were past those kinds of starts. You know, the kind where you walk more than you strike out and fail to control your sinker? Trevor can get out of jams when he has his sinker working, but the fact that he gave up a third of his season home run total in the Atlanta game suggests that it was not at its best his last time out.

As of now, Clayton Richard is on pace to lead the Padres in innings pitched this season, which is...something, I guess. I don't even have a joke here, he's just that boring. Richard has a roughly average ERA, a slightly below-average strikeout rate, and a roughly average walk rate. As Evil Abed would put it, he's VH1, Robocop 2, and Back to the Future 3 as a pitcher. Which is to say he's an appropriate choice to be at the top of the 2012 Padres' rotation.

Tuesday: Trevor Bauer (0-0, 4.50) vs. Andrew Cashner (3-3, 3.63)

Insightful Commentary: People seemed surprised at how Trevor Bauer's first start went, and I'm not totally sure why. I mean, I didn't necessarily predict the result, but all the elements that we were taught to look for from Trevor Bauer were there. Easy, mid-90s fastball? Check. Sickening curveball? Check. Control problems that occasionally rendered both pitches inefficient? Check. Occasional rookie mistake? Check. It was everything Bauer's done in the minors, just more so.

Josh Byrnes and company were in the process of getting "I traded Anthony Rizzo and all I got was a stupid reliever" t-shirts from Cafepress when someone stumbled across the brilliant idea of making Cashner a starter. It makes sense, Cashner has always had mind-bogglingly good stuff. I mean, in 2012, Cashner's average fastball is clocked at 98.6 mph. That's his average. As in, half of them go faster than that. His problem has always been control, and while he was able to limit his walks in his first full start against Houston, his career BB/9 of 4.79 is going to raise its ugly head at some point. But if nothing else, this pitching matchup will definitely not lack for raw talent.

Wednesday: Ian Kennedy (6-7, 4.20) vs. Jason Marquis (1-4, 3.06)

Insightful Commenatry: Good Ian showed up in Milwaukee, just to remind everyone that he still exists. Seven innings, one run, K:BB of 7:1. His K/9 is almost identical to last years, and his BB/9 is actually a little better. Even his LD% is the same. It's just that pesky everything else that's the problem.

Jeff Suppan, Jason Marquis, and Kip Wells have all made starts for the Padres this year. Depressing as that is, it doesn't seem like an accident. Josh Byrnes is clearly trying to recreate the back of the mid-2000s Cardinals' rotation. The question would seem to be "why?" Why would you try to recreate the worst part of a rotation that was never actually that good to begin with? Why do any of us do anything? Josh Byrnes is the GM of the Padres. Think about what that job entails for a minute. He needs to get his kicks any way he can.

Final Verdict: People occasionally comment that I never call sweeps for the Diamondbacks. To which I would respond: dude, have you seen the Diamondbacks play this year? How many of these pitchers can you say are going to keep the team in the game with any degree of certainty? And then there's the offense to consider, the same offense that has recently gotten suppressed by Mike Fiers, Garrett Richards and Ervin Santana. So no, I'm not picking a sweep, because this team is weird and bipolar and possibly not all that great to begin with. Diamondbacks two games to one.

Gaslamp Ball is the place to go if you want Padres information.

Stats via Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs.