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Series Preview # 34: D-backs @ Padres

How different are the second-half Padres?

Francisco Mejia at the plate, All-Star Futures Game
Francisco Mejia at the plate, All-Star Futures Game
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The second-half Padres

although some things are the same…

  • last place in the NL West
  • more top-100 prospects than any other team. Position players: Fernando Tatis Jr. (shortstop), Luis Urias(second base). Pitchers: MacKenzie Gore, Cal Quantrill, Michel Baez, Adrian Morejon, Anderson Espinoza, Chris Paddack, and Logan Allen.

different is on-target.

An additional top-100 prospect was acquired: Francisco Mejia (catcher)! Will he platoon with the Padres catcher Austin Hedges, whose pitch framing ranks 12th in the Majors (StatCorner and Baseball Prospectus)? MLB ranked Mejia as the top catcher prospect and the 15th best prospect overall. What did people say about Mejia?

  • “The team’s scouts [Padres] love his offensive potential, though he is batting a relatively modest .279 with a .755 OPS at Triple A this season.” Ken Rosenthal
  • “…switch-hitter with impressive track record adapted well to high minors; isolated power is steadily picking up; makes contact easily though not a high-walk bat; has made steady progress with the glove…” –John Sickels, pre-season
  • “…I still think Mejia is an elite prospect.” -- John Sickels, June 2018
  • ”Offensively, and specifically defensively, the way he led the staff, some of the nuances of catching. He’s in a much better spot now than he was a couple years ago as a defender.” – Chris Antonetti, the Indians’ president of baseball operations, pre-season

And what did Francisco Mejia say at MLB’s Rookie Career Development Program? ”It’s been about the focus and focusing on the game.” – Francisco Mejia,

Padres outfield is a showcase for proven talent and future stars.

  • Wil Myers, LF. On 12 July, he had a MLB power ranking of #1 for the previous 7 days! Through 21 July his OPS+ of 140 is a career best. His Power/Speed numbers of 28 in 2016 and 24 in 2017 were second and first in the NL.
  • Manuel Margot, CF, age 23. Last year, the rookie of the year voting had him in sixth place. This season, on 21 July, his 14 Total Zone Runs for CF were first in the NL, third in the Majors.
  • Travis Jankowski, RF, was drafted in the first round 2012. He is an outstanding defender. This season, on 21 July, his 5 Total Zone Runs as RF were third in the NL.
  • Hunter Renfroe, bench OF, was drafted in the first round 2013. This season his OPS+ is 107. His 5 Total Zone Runs as RF were fourth in the NL.
  • Franmil Reyes, bench OF, was drafted 2011. He is 23 years old. May 14 was his debut in the Majors.

In July, Perdomo rejoined the rotation. The fifth spot in the rotation is no longer extra duty for the bullpen. That consistently in the rotation was a huge change. Although the bullpen workload was reduced, in his first four games back, his ERA was 6.17.

However, the emerging rotation situation is unpredictably amorphous - with Lucchesi (15 starts) back after being optioned to the minors, with Mitchell (7 starts) on the DL, with Lyles (8 starts) on the DL, and with Lauer (16 starts) having allowed 5 earned runs in 2 innings vs Cubs on 15 July.

Kirby Yates is the new closer – and he has a nearly unhittable splitter. The bullpen is missing Brad Hand (closer) and Adam Cimber (setup), who were traded. Hand had an 83% save rate, an ERA of 3.05, and a FIP of 3.18. Cimber had an ERA of 3.17 and a FIP of 2.33.

And the second-half Diamondbacks

are contending to win the NL West.

The Diamondbacks are neck-and-neck with the Dodgers and the Rockies,

while delighting their fans with consistent hitting,

scoring at least 5 runs in six of the last seven games:

  • 10 runs scored on 20 July
  • 5 runs scored on 21 July
  • 6 runs cored on 22 July
  • 7 runs scored on 23 July
  • 5 runs scored on 24 July
  • 1 run scored on 25 July (against Jon Lester, 5x AS, 3x WS, NLCS MVP)
  • 6 runs scored on 26 July

while hopeful that adding Matt Andriese keeps the team in contention and he is a contributor for several more seasons;

and anticipating another exciting trade that will keep the team in contention. It feels like Christmas in July! Recent thoughts at the AZ SnakePit include:

Who will pitch in this series?

Friday. Luis Perdomo (6.99 ERA, 7.5 SO/9, 4.6 BB/9) vs Zack Greinke (3.05 ERA, 9.5 SO/9, 1.7 BB/9)

Last season, Luis Perdomo faced the D-backs in 4 games. In 18.1 innings, he allowed 18 earned runs. In July, he started 4 games allowing 16 runs in 23.1 innings. In this game, I predict the D-backs will score many runs.

Zack Greinke’s last two starts ignited talk about his future in the Hall-of-Fame. The two games combined for 15.2 innings, with 6 hits, 1 earned run, 1 walk, and 20 strikeouts.

Will he continue at that high level against the Padres? In the Padres starting lineup, the best career OPSs against Greinke are Margot(1.267), Asuaje(1.167), Hedges(.873), and Hosmer(.580). The other Padres had almost no success with OPSs below .450. If he pitches well against the best four hitters (as I anticipate), I predict a D-backs win.

Saturday.Tyson Ross (4.29 ERA, 8.1 SO/9, 3.9 BB/9) vs Patrick Corbin (3.13 ERA, 11.0 SO/9, 2.4 BB/9)

Tyson Ross faced the D-backs in July. He gave up 8 earned runs in 2 innings. He allowed 3 singles, 3 doubles, one homerun, and 2 walks. In the first two innings, Ross will want to show that game was an anomaly.

After a start against the Braves when Patrick Corbin allowed a 4 run third inning, he rebounded against the Cubs. “…Patrick Corbin looked like the pitcher he was back in April, as he faced the minimum [batters] through the first three innings, only needing 33 pitches to get through the Cubs’ lineup, and only 60 to get through five.”— Dano_in_Tucson

Can Patrick Corbin continue his success against the Padres? In past seasons, seven Padres have hit well against him. This season, Corbin faced the Padres one game. He pitched 6 innings and allowed only 3 hits and 1 walk. The only Padres success was Christian Villaneuva’s homer. Advantage: D-backs.

Sunday. Joey Lucchesi (3.34 ERA, 9.3 SO/9, 3.1 BB/9) vs Clay Buchholz (2.38 ERA, 7.1 SO/9, 1.8 BB/9)

In his first season in the Majors, Joey Lucchesi continues to improve. Nick Stevens wrote, “His bread-and-butter is that high “churve” pitch that gets hitters swinging, however, he has struggled to pinpoint his fastball. He did a fantastic job of that against the Mets, throwing his fastball to both parts of the plate and changing eye levels with the pitch.” On the other hand, his ERA for July is 3.68 - which means he is allowing more runs.

In Clay Buchholz’s first start after his oblique injury, he was fantastic. He started with a 6 pitch first inning, and continued pitching well with a low pitch count. He allowed 1 earned run in 6.2 innings, with 5 strikeouts and 2 walks. Advantage: D-backs

respect pose
respect pose

Yoga Pose of the Series - respect pose

The yoga pose of the series is demonstrated by Min Soo Pata. My yoga instructor is wearing Diamondbacks attire. Recently she wrote, “There is a balance to this life that is beyond duality, it is not about anything but you. How will you choose to live, see, feel, be. …”

What is it like for me to practice the respect pose? I bow to honor and pay respect to the earth that supports my foot and sends vibration energy throughout my being. I focus my energy on an infinitesimal point of earth to stay motionless so I can feel its support and vibration. My sense of stability softens into a relaxed inner peace as I prepare to stretch-outward to meet my challenge.

Baseball’s many small successes and failures build into wins and losses. This season in May and again very recently, the Diamondback players have been especially challenged. To stretch outward to meet their challenges, the Diamondback players need to honor and respect their support systems. Their support systems allow a balance beyond duality.