Arizona Diamondbacks (68-75) @ San Diego Padres (67-77)
Well, the wheels have sure come off the bus, haven't they. The D-Backs have lost 7 of their last 10 games, greatly reducing their chances of getting to a .500 record on the season. They completely dominated game 1 against the Dodgers before having the tables flipped on them, outscored 13-8 in the final 2 games. The good news is that we'll get a glimpse into the future over the next few weeks, getting to see young guys like Peter O' Brien, Socrates Brito (what a name), and Brandon Drury. A notable name not on that list is pitching prospect Aaron Blair, currently not on the 40-man roster. While it appears that Blair has done everything to merit a call-up to the big leagues, I'm sure Dave Stewart, man with 18 years playing baseball and now in a GM position, knows more than me, sophomore in high school writing stuff out of his bedroom. In Dave I trust.
Oh, Padres, what has happened? After spending all kinds of money and making all sorts of trades to acquire all these guys who were supposed to make the Padres instant contenders, the whole project failed, and San Diego probably won't even get to a .500 record. They just had easily their worst series of the season, where they were outscored 27-4 in a 3 game series against the Giants. Try and guess how many of those games they won. The Padres don't even have a guy like Goldy they can watch and say, hey at least he's really good. Their best hitter OPS-wise is Justin Upton, whose .795 OPS puts him 55th out of 151 qualifying hitters. Next on the list is Matt Kemp, all they way down at 78th. Something tells me it's not good when you have just one hitter in the top half of qualifying guys.
- Phil Gosselin is trying as hard as he can to make us forget about who we gave up to get him, putting up very nice .905 OPS in September. It'll be interesting to see how the position battles go in the infield next spring.
- Everyone on offense seems to be kicking it into high gear in hopes of not losing playing time to September guys, with everyone from Nick Ahmed to Jarrod Saltalamachia having fantastic months. Two guys stand out as having very rough months, but we'll get to them in the bad news section
- Both Matt Kemp and Yangervis (that's a fun name) Solarte of the Padres have been tearing it up in September. Solarte is batting .395 in the month, and Kemp has gone deep 5 times.
- The backbones of the Arizona offense have disappeared. Goldy and A.J. Pollock are batting .229 and .211 respectively. These two guys HAVE to step it up for Arizona to win games.
Jeremy Hellickson returns on Monday to make his first start since injuring his left hamstring
Out for season: first baseman Yonder Alonso, pitcher Josh Johnson, pitcher Cory Mazzoni, pitcher Brandon Morrow, and pitcher Colin Rea. The Padres will also be without set up man Brandon Maurer for the series. Looking at the injury reports for other teams has made me realize how lucky the D-Backs have been this season.
Game 1: Jeremy Hellickson RHP (9-8, 4.60 ERA, 1.33 WHIP) vs James Shields RHP (11-6, 3.90 ERA, 1.34 WHIP)
It's too bad Jeremy got hurt when he did, riding what were two of his best starts of the season, 13.1 innings and 1 earned run allowed in those games. Hellickson made one rehab start last week, where he went 6 innings and allowed 3 runs, which is the type of outing I expect to see from him on Monday.
Remember January, when the Diamondbacks were considered to be in the market for James Shields? Oh, wouldn't it be nice to have some stability at the top of the rotation, a guy who has consistently performed very well over the last few years. Well, it's sure looking like a good thing Arizona didn't end up signing him to a big 75-million dollar contract. This year, what has killed James is the long ball. His HR/FB ratio. This year, almost 18% of all fly balls he's allowed have gone for home runs. This is almost double his rate over the past 4 years, where only 10% of fly balls went for homers. Is it bad luck, or is Shields doing something differently this year? Definitely giving the edge to Shields in this matchup.
Game 2: Jhoulys Chacin RHP (0-1, 2.70 ERA, 1.05 WHIP) vs Tyson Ross RHP (10-10, 3.24 ERA, 1.31 WHIP)
With all the in-house options battling to start at the beginning of the year, I was not expecting a minor league signing to come in and make starts, yet here he is. Chacin has had some very good results in his first two starts as a Diamondback, with quality starts in both outings. However, during his first start, it seemed to me that everything the Cardinals made contact with was smoked, even if it turned into an out. But hey, if he's getting good results, who cares how it happens.
Ross has dominated the D-Backs in 2 starts against them this season, one of them being a 9-inning, one run performance. Ross is gonna come at you with power, throwing almost exclusively 4-seamers and 2-seamers in the mid 90's, along with his signature slider. Arizona needs to be patient in this game. Ross has had control issues at times, walking almost 4 batters per 9 innings. Advantage Padres.
Game 3: Robbie Ray LHP (4-11, 3.54 ERA, 1.31 WHIP) vs Andrew Cashner RHP (5-15, 4.27 ERA, 1.43 WHIP)
If you're wondering why people don't really like the win stat anymore (looking at you Harold Reynolds), look no further than Robbie Ray. His ERA is over a run better than Jeremy Hellickson, yet Jeremy sits with a record which looks much nicer than Ray's. Robbie's achilles heel this year has been not going deep into games. He has failed to finish the 6th inning in each of his last 4 starts. While I'll always take quality over quantity, you'd like to see Robbie get deeper into games. I don't know about you, but I don't trust the bullpen to make it through 3-4 innings scoreless. \
After putting together two solid seasons in a row, Cashner's production has declined this year. He's still throwing gas, but this season batters are just squaring him up more than in the past. He has made two starts against Arizona this season, one very good, and one very not good. Advantage to the Diamondbacks for Wednesday.
I have three X-Factors for this series:
- Paul Goldschmidt- Arizona just isn't the same team when he isn't producing
- A.J. Pollock- See X-Factor number 1.
- Justin Upton- Has an OPS of .920 against current D-Back pitchers, including 4 homers this year.
The Diamondbacks are gonna begin a nice run to the end of the season with a sweep of San Diego.