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Series Preview # 45: D-backs vs Padres

Momentum favors the D-backs.

Padres Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer when they were not playing against the D-backs.
Padres Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer when they were NOT playing against the D-backs.
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Padres.

Their window of contention could start as soon as next season. Let’s look at their numbers:

Their Awesome Numbers:

  • Winning record in 1-run games (23-18).
  • 3 super-star players not listed on the top-100 prospects. They are Manny Machado, Eric Hosmer, and closer Kirby Yates.
  • 14 players listed on top-100 prospects by at least one of Baseball Prospectus, FanGraphs, or MLB. The prospects are: Fernando Tatis Jr. SS, Taylor Trammell OF, Mackenzie Gore SP, Luis Urias 2B, Chris Paddack SP, Luis Patino SP, Fancisco Mejia, Adrian Morejon SP, Michel Baez SP, Ryan Weathers SP, Anderson Espinoza SP, Tirso Ornelas OF, Josh Naylor OF/1B, and Hudson Potts 3B.

Their Disappointing Numbers:

  • Losing record against left-handed pitching (11-19).
  • 8 more losses than wins (64-72).
  • 9 games back in the wild card race.
  • Negative 56 run differential (runs-scored minus runs-allowed).
  • 14 players on the injured list (30 August). The injured players are: Fernando Tatis Jr. stress reaction in his back, Adrian Morejon shoulder impingement, Francisco Mejia strained oblique, Ian Kinsler herniated disk in neck, Franchy Cordero sprained elbow, Brett Kennedy strained lat, Jacob Nix partially torn UCL, Garrett Richards Tommy John surgery, Jose Castillo torn hand ligament, Miguel Diaz knee surgery, Carl Edwards Jr. strained shoulder, Aaron Loup strained elbow, Robert Stock strained biceps, and Adam Warren strained forearm.

The D-backs.

The D-backs’ huge accomplishment was rebuilding their farm system; it arguably ranks third in the Majors. In addition, the team exceeded pre-season expectations by contending in the wild-card race. This season, the D-backs fielded a competitive team with sustainability and affordability. Hopefully, they are on the road to eventually winning a World Series for the second time.

Let’s look at two numbers that stand out.

  • 3 more wins than losses (70-67) - they continue their break-out from a middling streak.
  • 3.5 games back in the wild card race.

Momentum favors the D-backs.

After sweeping the Giants and almost sweeping a 4-game series against the Dodgers, the D-backs have big momentum. The D-backs are strongly motivated to keep their chances in the wild-card race. This contrasts with the struggling Padres who have 14 players on the injured list and near-zero wild-card chances. I predict the D-backs will sweep the series.

Who will pitch in this series?

Monday. Cal Quantrill (109 ERA+, 7.5 SO/9, 2.3 BB/9) vs Mike Leake (96 ERA+, 5.9 SO/9, 3.2 BB/9)

Rookie Cal Quantrill focuses on his consistency in three ways:

  • He prepares methodically, including bullpen sessions.
  • He looks and feels the same every time he is on the mound.
  • He uses Rapsodo to check that his spin rates are where they need to be.

In 19 games this season, Cal Quintrill pitched consistently well with two exceptions - in May he allowed 5 runs against the Pirates, and in August he allowed 8 runs against the Dodgers.

For six seasons, Mike Leake has ranked top-10 in least walks per-nine-innings. This season in the AL, he ranks first with 1.248 walks per-nine-innings. Playing for the D-backs in the NL, he has 1.256 walks-per-nine-innings, which would rank second if he had a qualifying number of innings.

This season, his ERA and HRs-allowed improved every month until he was traded to the D-backs. His numbers regressed; it may take time to adjust to the National League.

  • 4.98 ERA, 10 HRs April
  • 4.46 ERA, 8 HRs May
  • 4.46 ERA, 5 HRs June
  • 3.00 ERA, 3 HRs July
  • 6.59 ERA, 8 HRs August (D-backs) gives the D-backs a 56% chance of winning this game (and Tuesday’s game, too).

Tuesday. Padres Bullpen vs Merrill Kelly (92 ERA+, 7.4 SO/9, 2.8 BB/9)

Five times this season the Padres did not have a starter or an opener. This game will be the sixth time. With the expanded roster, the Padres will call-up bullpen pitcher Javy Guerra from the minors. “It’s going to be a lot better for us [with bullpen pitcher call-ups].”—Andy Green, Padres Manager

Merrill Kelly faced the Padres three times this season.

  • In the first two games, he allowed 13 hits in 11 innings, resulting in 7 earned runs. The D-backs won the first game, and lost the second game by one run.
  • In the third game, he allowed 5 hits and 4 earned runs in 1.2 innings. The D-backs lost that game.

Kelly on the mound will give the D-backs real winning chances against the Padres bullpen.

Wednesday. Chris Paddack (117 ERA+, 9.3 SO/9, 2.0 BB/9) vs Zac Gallen (159 ERA+, 10.9 SO/9, 4.5 BB/9)

Chris Paddack had Tommy John surgery in August of 2016. Last season, he was limited to 90 innings. Because this season he likely has a innings limit, this game may be his last for this season. In August, his ERA ballooned to 7.50, which is another reason this game may be his last for the season.

As a D-back, Zac Gallen continues to excel in strikeouts. His 11.2 strikeouts-per-9-innings would rank 4th in the NL if he had enough innings to qualify for the Baseball Reference leader board (31 August 2019). He would be behind Max Scherzer, Robbie Ray!, and Jacob deGrom. The trend is positive; on 6 August his 10.67 strikeouts-per-9-innings would have ranked only 6th. gives the D-backs a 60% chance of winning this game. Zac Gallen on the mound makes the D-backs the favorite this game.