The San Diego Padres are a team that in the past you looked to get healthy against. And during the first week of the season, that was indeed the case for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Taking 2 of 3 from San Diego on the heels of their disastrous 1-3 opening series in LA, the DBacks got their season back on course during that series, and have gone 3-2 since then.
The Padres, despite that series loss, have been playing pretty good baseball however. They come in tied with the Dodgers for first place in the NL West with an 8-5 record, despite a negative run differential of 46 RS, 48 RA. They have played two series with the Giants, and have gone 5-2 against that team, while also taking 2 of 3 from the Cardinals. Somewhat surprising, at least to me, their pitching has lead the way.
MACRO MATCHUPS, NL Ranks in Parenthesis
The Diamondbacks season view of the pitching is a little misleading, as since the LA series they have allowed 4.2 R/G and have a team ERA of 4.18. While that’s much improved, they really need to push that number under 4.00 going forward. The Padres meanwhile have run up their good pitching numbers against the Giants. Their two worst games were against the DBacks April 1 & 2, allowing 10 & 8 Runs. But they held the Giants to 1 run three times, and had a team shutout against them opening day. So small sample size and schedule definitely a factor in these early numbers to be considered.
On the hitting side, The DBacks are 3rd in homers hit with 22 and have a whopping 33 doubles to lead the NL, next closest is LA with 24. But they have the 3rd fewest walks with just 30. That explains the 9th ranked OBP number in chart above. In fact per Inside Edge Diamondbacks hitters have drawn 1 walk in 107 PAs (0.9%) when leading off an inning this season -- lowest in MLB; League Avg: 8.1%.
FOCUS ON PADRES. BR Team Page
WHO’S HOT (LAST 6 GAMES)
NL Save Leader Kirby Yates is a perfect 7 for 7 in opportunities. Craig Stammen has only allowed 1 run in the primary 8th inning set up role. Lefty Robbie Erlin got cuffed up by the DBacks on April 1st in SD, but other than that has been pretty good. The other lefty, Aaron Loup has hit the DL with an elbow strain and they have called up Brad Wieck. The mid inning relievers have given up some runs though, so if you can get their starters out early, you can score some runs against their middle relief. So far, the back end of their pen has been very effective at protecting leads, so you don’t want to be down to them late and depend on big comebacks.
Among players with over 10 PA the last 5 games, Nick Ahmed, Eduardo Escobar, and Adam Jones all have over 1.000 OPS, while Ketel Marte, David Peralta, Christian Walker and Wilmer Flores have all gone cold.
A quick note on Matchup and other info. DBacks.com page has a nice feature under the news section where you can find pitching matchups and lots of other info. You find it by clicking on Sections and then News.
Once you get to probable pitchers, you can see who is starting, basic stats, and a nice little feature labeld + View Stats . Click on that to see head to head matchup stats vs. the starter that day. Another cool place to get preview info is Baseball-Reference.com home page. On the right hand side of page about midway down you will see the listing of games. If you click on the start time, you get a page that looks like THIS
Of course if you don’t want to go to these resources , that’s what we’re here for, to bring you the summary for your convenience. :)
Thursday April 11, 6:40 @ Chase Field.
Pedro Avila, a 22 year rookie right hander out of Venezuela, will make his major league debut tonight. Here is a link to his minor league page. I wasn’t able to find a recent scouting report, but there is a decent one from 2 years ago at Baseball Prospectus. If someone has a later one, please share in the comments.
Zack Godley is coming off a much better outing his last time out, allowing just 1 run in 5 2⁄3 to the Red Sox to get the win in a 15-8 DBacks victory. He did walk 3 however, so he’ll need to keep the walks, as well as his emotions in check to be successful in this game.
Friday April 12, , 6:40 @ Chase Field
Chris Paddock, RHP, 0-0, 1.04 ERA, 11 SO, vs. Luke Weaver RHP 6.75 ERA, 7 SO
Paddock was obtained by the Padres in a mid season deal for Fernando Rodney back in 2016. His fastball sits at 94 and tops out at 97. He has a great changeup to go with that, with a scout rating of 60/70. (Present/Future on 80 scale) He put up video game numbers in the low minors, and only had 7 starts in AA last year. But he had a good spring and made the Padres rotation. He had an excellent game his first start going 5 IP and giving up just 1 run to the Giants. His second start vs. the Cardinals was wobbly though, lasting just 3 2⁄3 and walking 4. He only gave up 1 hit and 1 run however in a game the Padres eventually won.
Luke Weaver will hope to get off to a better start in this one. He’s given up 3 runs in the first inning in his first start and 3 runs in the second inning of his last start vs. the Red Sox. He recovered in that one to hold Boston scoreless through the next 3 innings in a game the Dbacks walked off in the bottom of the 9th on a hit by battery mate Carson Kelly. The issue for Weaver as I see it has been fastball command, and a reluctance to use his Curveball earlier in games. He’s thrown just 16 of those in his two starts. Considering how much of a focus that was for him during the off season to develop that pitch, and how well he was throwing it in spring, it’s a little mystifying. He’s been relying on his excellent changeup to get K’s as his out pitch, but I think he needs to use the Curve more. Ultimately however his success or failure will rest on the FB command.
Saturday April 13th 5:10 @ Chase Field
Matt Strahm LHP 0-2, 7.04 ERA. VS Merrill Kelly, 1-1, 2.57 ERA, 12 SO
After getting hit hard by the DBacks on April 1st, Strahm was a tough luck loser in his second start, giving up just 2 runs, 1 earned in 5 innings of work in a 4-1 loss to the Cardinals. Strahm is mostly a FB/Slider guy, and appears to have lost about 2 MPH of velocity in moving from the bullpen to the rotation.
Kelly is coming off a masterful start against the Red Sox last time out, allowing 1 run in 8 innings while striking out 9. But he was snakebit by a cooled offense that produced zero runs in a bullpen game pitched by the Red Sox.
Sunday April 14th 1:10 @ Chase Field
Eric Lauer LHP 2-1 4.76 ERA 13 SO, vs Zack Greinke 1-1, 7.16 ERA 22 SO
Lauer throws a low 90’s FB, along with a slider that is rated pretty good by scout grades (55), but hasn’t really produced great results yet. He’ll also mix in a Curve, as well as the occasional cutter and changeup. He has almost no discernible platoon split so far in his career, as the triple slash and OPS against are almost identical. Notable is the fact that Saturday’s starter Strahm has a pretty big reverse split, much better against RHB, so it will be interesting to see what Torey Lovullo does with his lineup. I’m guessing David Peralta sits one of these two games.
Greinke seems to be pushing the envelope as to just how much velocity he can lose before losing effectiveness. Location is key for him of course, and if he has great FB location he can baffle hitters with whichever of his assortment of off speed pitches is working best that day. He truly is a master at his craft. However he has struggled with FB command in the early going, and has also seemingly been struggling to get on the same page at times with his designated catcher John Ryan Murphy. Hopefully the two will be more in sync this Sunday and there is a repeat of Zack’s great performance in San Diego last week.
SUMMARY AND PREDICTION:
When looking at the early season schedule, the Padres were not a team that you looked at as being a tough spot in the schedule. But they are much improved. The addition of Manny Machado is the obvious big improvement. But rookie Fernando Tatis Jr. is turning heads and they are getting solid production from their starting rotation and bullpen.
For their part, the Diamondbacks offense is perhaps regressing to the mean a bit. When people looked at the lineup at the start of the season, the last thing they thought was this was going to be a team near the top of the tables in slugging and extra base hits and homers. It speaks a lot to their approach and preparation that they have come out as hot as they have. However ultimately they are going to have to start taking more walks and getting on base a bit more too. And the pitching still has a ways to go to completely right the ship. The ball is jumping in major league baseball and the Dbacks are still not likely to slug themselves to a winning record over a 162 games.
Series Split, 2 games a piece