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Series Preview #43: Diamondbacks @ Padres

The Snakes will get a bite of the Brewers v2.0

Arizona Diamondbacks v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

I am stepping in to do several previews that would have otherwise been written by the witty Jack Sommers, so don’t slam me for the lack of professionalism in this write up. Besides, you know who I am. :)

Padres = Brewers?

The last time we played the Padres was before the trade deadline. We got swept at Petco Park...no, wait! We actually won a game, because Merrill Kelly > Mike Clevinger. And Melancon got a save. Ha! You didn’t see that coming!

It was the last game before the All Star game and ever since, the Diamondbacks, who were at 40-52 then, have gone 24-17. The Padres have had a similar schedule as the Diamondbacks since our last matchup and have gone a similar 22-19.

Although our division rivals are in a play-off spot, ever since losing this weekend’s series against the unbeatable Dodgers, they are 19 games behind the division leaders. However, despite losing the last series, they have a bit more of a comfortable lead in the Wild Card race thanks to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Currently, they are 3 games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers and 12 a game in front of the Phillies. Of the teams in a wild card spot (Braves or Mets, Padres and Phillies), the Padres have the worst run differential. All in all, despite the still positive performance, many, and probably the Padres themselves included, would have expected much more from this team, especially after the trade deadline where they went big.

We probably know what their strength is: their loaded rotation. The Padres are league leaders (just behind the Astros) in Quality Starts, although that isn’t translated into a strong W-L% for their starting pitching. The rotation is pretty much carried by their ace Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish. Their relief pitching is good, but the bullpen carries a total number of holds similar to the D-Backs’ bullpen. Something is missing...

The bats are missing. Their OPS+ is middle of the pack, but their SLG% is bad, even worse than the Diamondbacks. They are one of the league leaders in walks though, which is basically what is saving their OBP, but they obviously don’t move many of those batters over to home plate. In order to become the dominating team they want to be, the Padres need to hit better and harder so they can score more runs that way. Don’t you love the simplicity of baseball?

Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks
“Wow, that DBE guy is really smart” - image and thoughts of Torey Lovullo after reading this article
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Padres’ major roster movements since our last match up.

  • Acquired Juan Soto from the Washington Nationals. For the Padres Soto has continued his MVP performance and he leads a powerful 2-3 combo with Manny Machado.
  • Acquired closer Josh Hader from the Brewers. So far Hader has gone from bad to worse since moving to San Diego, giving up 12 runs in less than 6 innings.
  • Acquired Josh Bell from the Washington Nationals. Bell has gone really cold since coming over from Washington, hitting just .181 although he still draws a fair amount of walks.
  • Acquired Brandon Drury from the Reds. Drury has been striking out in almost a quarter of his appearances and hitting somewhat over the Uecker line.
  • Activated Robert Suarez from the 60-day IL. The hard throwing Venezuelan has performed well since his return early August although he recently gave up 3 runs in one inning of work.
  • Got rid of Eric Hosmer.
  • Gave up MacKenzie Gore in the Soto trade.
  • Lost Fernando Tatis Jr. to a couple of lists and he is out for the season and the beginning of the next one.

The Padres recalled infielder Matt Beaty and right-hander Reiss Knehr from their Triple A as September call-ups and have Drew Pomeranz (since the beginning of the season) and catcher Jorge Alfaro on their IL, so nothing noteworthy there.

San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Angels
“Wait, did they really say ‘nothing noteworthy’ on the AZSnakePit?” - image and thoughts of AJ Preller after reading this article
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The matchups

Before even looking at the different pitching matchups, I will go bold here and say that on the offensive side Juan Soto and Manny Machado are a league above all other hitters in this series, but other than them I would take almost anyone (except Perdomo) of our hitters over any friar.

The difference in this series will be the pitching performance. Obviously in close games we will probably get screwed in at least one of the three games by our bullpen (count on that, please, it will save frustrations), and thus it will depend on the different pitching matchups if we can rob this play-off team a win.

Game #1 Mon 09/05 3:40 MST, Ryne Nelson (ARI) vs Blake Snell (SDP)
  • Ryne Nelson. For Reno: 5.43 ERA, 1.390 WHIP, 3.1 BB/9, 8.5 K/9.
  • Blake Snell. 3.87 ERA/3.09 FIP, 1.323 WHIP, 4.0 BB/9, 12.0 K/9.

James wrote an excellent article on Nelson, so nothing to add there.

If there is one game the D-Backs can win in San Diego, then it will be the first one in the series. Blake Snell has performed like a mid-rotation pitcher and has fared okay in that. Biggest issues this year are short outings (as ever, he never makes it past 6 innings) and few scoreless in those (3 in 19 games). He still has troubles limiting the walks although not as bad as last season. Snell bounced back in his latest outing against the Giants, going 6 scoreless, but was hit hard in Cleveland the week before giving up 6 runs in 3.1 innings, his shortest outing of the season.

He was supposed to start the game against the D-Backs on April 10, but couldn’t make it because of an injury, so the last time D-Backs batters squared off against him was in August 2021. That way, basically half of our current team hasn’t seen him yet.

The splits are real with Snell, limiting lefties to a .182 BA while right-handed batters have achieved a .702 OPS, so expect the D-Backs to deploy more RHB than normal in Monday’s game.

We should be able to see within the first 4 innings if we are able to win the game and obviously we will depend a lot on how Nelson faces the task of pitching to some fearless ‘papis’. But I am sending some positive vibes here and say we take this, putting my confidence in our newest member of the major league squad.

San Diego Padres v San Francisco Giants
“Darn, they are on to me...” - image and thoughts of Blake Snell after reading this article
Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images
Game #2 Tue 09/06 6:40 MST, Merrill Kelly (ARI) vs Joe Musgrove (SDP)
  • Merrill Kelly. 2.84 ERA/3.09 FIP, 1.105 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, 7.8 K/9.
  • Joe Musgrove. 3.01 ERA/3.38 FIP, 1.038 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, 9.0 K/9.

You don’t get a matchup much better than this one if you are planning on watching a D-Backs vs Padres game. The difference between Kelly and Musgrove is that our man is able to limit the hard contact better than Musgrove. This pitching matchup could go either way and will probably decide who wins the series.

However, in the last 7 games Musgrove has encountered troubles, giving up 21 runs in 41 innings. Musgrove has gone 1-3 in those games and was bailed out by the offence in a game in Kansas where he gave up 5 runs in just 3.2 innings. The right-hander is faring better against LHB than RHB, although just minimal, so we probably won’t see the D-Backs betting on that.

Nope, our cards will be on Merrill Kelly and hoping he is able to go many innings to limit the possibilities of yet another bullpen meltdown.

Game #3 Wed 09/07 5:40 MST, Tommy Henry (ARI) vs Yu Darvish (SDP)
  • Tommy Henry. 4.83 ERA/4.60 FIP, 1.484 WHIP, 4.5 BB/9, 6.5 K/9.
  • Yu Darvish. 3.26 ERA/3.27 FIP, 0.971 WHIP, 1.7 BB/9, 9.0 K/9.

Henry was smashed to Philly steak in his latest outing and will be looking to bounce back and give his ERA a prettier face. He’ll face the tough task of keeping up pace with Darvish who comes off a 7 inning win last Friday, in the series opener against the Dodgers, whom he held scoreless and allowed just 2 hits.

Darvish has already faced us three times this season, achieving 2 wins and a non-decision, being the non-decision a 6 innings no hitter. Walker and Marte have good numbers against Darvish, so the Diamondbacks are definitely not without a chance here but will need to perform at their best to be able to come on top in what will probably be the toughest game of the series to win.

Here’s to good luck and let’s go D-Backs!