On the surface, there are three big reasons the Padres can take this series from the Rockies.
1 - The Padres are so hot right now.
Quiz any of your friends and ask them which NL West team has won their last five series. Not the first-place Dodgers. Not the awesome Rockies. It's the Padres - seriously, and they weren't cupcake series either. They beat the Braves, Marlins, Giants and Dodgers - all playoff contenders, all on the road.
The Padres are just playing much, much better baseball in recent weeks. In fact, San Diego is 27-26 since the All-Star Break, the exact same mark as the Los Angeles Dodgers and a half game behind the Giants' 27-25 mark for second in the division. (The Rockies are 34-19, by the way). And all of that came after starting the second half 2-10. Are the Padres really 25-16 since July 28? Yes. Yes they are. But don't worry, the Rockies are 27-15 in that span, so they can't rob us of that. Plus, their two game win streak has nothing on our seven.
2 - The series will be in San Diego.
When a team is 15 games below .500, it's noteworthy to see that San Diego has a 36-34 home record (that's more home wins than the Braves and as many as the Phillies).
3 - The Rockies have a tendency to play down to their competition.
Now, I'm going to tell you all three of those are either false or don't matter. The overbearing factor is that none of these rank in importance even close to the starting pitching matchups, and Colorado has a distinct advantage in the bookend games with a chance on the wild card Saturday. The Reds just came into Coors Field as the hottest team in the league and left on the business end of a four-game sweep. Either say momentum is valid or it is not - either way, the Rockies and their 7-game win streak look good there.
As for Petco Park, the Rockies are 4-3 there this season, including a series win out of the chute from the ASB. Plus, Colorado's 36-33 mark on the road is actually a tick better than the Padres' home record.
As for playing down to competition, fuggedaboudit. It doesn't happen anymore. Under Jim Tracy, the Rockies have won 12 of 15 series against sub-.500 competition, including six straight. The three losses were to the Astros in his first road series, the Independence Day series vs the Snakes and that Mets debacle. Of the 11 teams the Rockies have faced this season that are currently under .500, they have a winning record against all sans the Mets and Astros. Playing down to competition is a myth. This team crushes bad teams more often than not.
So is there any reason to expect the Rockies to drop this series? Not at all. But there's a reason they play the games. Let's not get complacent like the Dodgers and Giants did.
Should you choose to reach out to Padres fans in the most friendly and jovial of ways, head to Gaslamp Ball.
(63-78, W2, 4th, 20 GB)
Friday-Sunday: 3-game series at Petco Park
The Bats: D+
San Diego is dead last in hitting in MLB at .242 and runs at 550. They have the fifth-least stolen bases and have the third worst wOBA, besting only the Reds and Giants. Of course, if we knock their pitchers for the friendly confines of Petco, we have to give San Diego a little credit for playing have their games in a stadium equipped with an offensive straitjacket. Their OPS+ of 94 is fairly decent, all things considered. Their lineup won't be confused for an average big league lineup, but they are not the joke their park makes them out to be. For reference, the Giants come in at 81 and the Reds sit at 80. Another important note is that every single batter in the lineup is hitting better now than they were the did when we last faced them. Here's that lineup.
|Everth Cabrera - SS||.255||0||10||.352||.380||.321||103|
|David Eckstein - 2B||.266||1||45||.323||.337||.340||84|
|Adrian Gonzalez - 1B||.274||37||85||.405||.559||.383||164|
|Kevin Kouzmanoff - 3B||.257||17||84||.304||.421||.299||99|
|Chase Headley - LF||.260||11||52||.337||.396||.304||103|
|Will Venable - RF||.279||10||32||.343||.478||.308||125|
|Nick Hundley - C||.220||6||21||.302||.376||.278||87|
|Tony Gwynn Jr - CF||.258||1||14||.333||.327||.272||84|
I'll ignore wOBA since it isn't park-adjusted. Instead, note how half of that lineup is above average from OPS+, and that could jump to five-eighths with a good series from Kouzmanoff.
Drew Macias (.174, 1, 6) is listed as the lone backup OF, though Oscar Salazar (.310, 3, 8) and Edgar Gonzalez (.205, 4, 13) are IFs that have also recieved starts in the outfield. Luis Rodriguez (.211, 2, 16) joins Salazar and Gonzalez as IF relief options while Eliezer Alfonzo (.180, 2, 8) and Henry Blanco (.236, 5, 13) fill the roles as the typical September backup catcher duo.
Hop after the jump for the scouting report on the arms, the D, the pitching matchups, the hot/cold players and injuries.
The Arms: D
San Diego has used a mind-boggling 13 starting pitchers this season, all of them for at least three starts. They'll add a 14th tonight. That instability is in stark contrast to the Rockies, who have four mainstays in the rotation since Week 3. They have traded away the only two starters that have performed above average by Statcorner's definition. Their rotational tRA of 5.36 really shows why there has been such a revolving door, though injuries have been a part as well. Fangraphs lists the Padres as having the 3rd worst pitching staff on the weight of the 2nd worst "rotation."
|2009 - Heath Bell||5-2||57||0||0||0||37||3||59.0||41||13||13||2||19||65||1.98||1.02|
The last time we faced the Padres, they had zero left-handed pitchers on the roster. They have rectified that in a big way, adding Aaron Poreda and Clayton Richard from the Peavy deal and calling up Wade LeBlanc, Joe Thatcher and Cesar Ramos. Of those, all but Richard are utilized in the bullpen.
The D: C
UZR really doesn't like San Diego's infield defense up the middle, though their D on the corners has made up for it. Gwynn and Venable are solid in CF and RF, though Chase Headley-3B-convert is below average in left. For the season. It's not terrible pertinent given the myriad players logging innings, but their team FG D value is right in the middle of the league. Interestingly, their errors, range factor, FG D value, UZR and fielding percentage are collectively closer to the Rockies than any other team.
The Ballpark: VERY VERY VERY STRONG pitcher's park
You probably knew that. However, it's park factor is 89, which is more influential on the pitching side than Coors Field has been for hitters since 2005. The park factor at Petco will affect stats more than any other park. If there's a place to make an MLB debut as a pitcher, this isn't a bad place.
Tonight, 8:05 pm MDT
|2009 - Jorge De La Rosa||14-9||28||27||0||0||0||0||159.2||154||85||80||20||71||162||4.51||1.41|
|2009 - Edward Mujica||3-4||63||0||0||0||2||1||77.0||77||35||30||12||16||60||3.51||1.21|
Saturday, September 12, 8:05 MDT
|**AA and AAA Stats**||W-L||G||GS||CG||SHO||SV||BS||IP||H||R||ER||HR||BB||K||ERA||WHIP|
|2009 - Esmil Rogers||11-7||5||27||26||0||0||0||153.0||164||80||76||11||54||129||4.47||1.42|
|2009 - Tim Stauffer||4-6||11||11||0||0||0||0||59.1||61||25||23||7||21||47||3.49||1.38|
|2009 - Jason Marquis||15-10||32||28||2||1||0||0||189.2||185||83||77||12||60||95||3.65||1.29|
|2009 - Clayton Richard||4-2||8||8||0||0||0||0||40.0||45||24||24||6||23||31||5.40||1.70|
Hearth Bell has been unscored upon in 11 of 12 outings, including 7 straight. Adrian Gonzalez has three home runs this month. David Eckstein's .286 average is the second best average amond Padre regulars this month behind Will Venable, who is 8-for-24.
Tony Gwynn Jr has managed just one single in his seven September games, and Everth Cabrera is hitting just .182 this month. Edward Mujica surrended 4 ER in his last two innings after going 18.1 IP and allowing just three.
Outfielders Brian Giles and Kyle Blanks are on the 15-day DL along with RHP Mike Adams. 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff is questionable for tonight's game with a calf injury. RHP's Cha Seung Baek (forearm), Chris Young (shoulder), Shawn Hill (elbow) and Mark Worrell (elbow) are on the 60-day DL along with Cliff Floyd (shoulder).