San Diego has become spoilers deluxe

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.


Padreslogo_medium

San Diego Padres (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.

LINEUP Avg HR RBI OBP SLG wOBA OPS+
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."

The bullpen has been decent, led by All-Star closer Heath Bell.  Edward Mujica has been solid, though he has been moved into the rotation to replace Mat Latos.  

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
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.

From the right side, Bud Black can turn to Luke Gregerson, Greg Burke, Sean Gallagher, Luis Perdomo, Adam Russell, and Ryan Webb.


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.


Probable Pitchers:

Tonight, 8:05 pm MDT

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
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
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Edward Mujica 3-4 63 0 0 0 2 1 77.0 77 35 30 12 16 60 3.51 1.21
De la Rosa continues to be one of the winningest pitchers in the entire league since June 1, as he'll go for his 15th win, which would tie him with Jason Marquis for third in the NL.  He has a nice matchup in attempting to get his 13th win in 15 starts, as he faces Edward Mujica, a reliever who will be making his first start of his professional career, minor leagues included.  He'll be replacing Mat Latos, who has been shut down for the season after reaching an innings threshhold.  Mujica has been stretched to over 4 innings and 50+ pitches before this season, so as far as a transition goes, he's not a terrible candidate.  He has had a strong season but got touched up for 5 runs over his last two relief appearances.  The 25yo right-hander has a strong splitter to go with low 90's heat and a slider.  His K/BB is impressive, though he's dinger prone.  Regardless, there's no way the Rockies should lose a bullpen start with DLR on the hill.  Favors:  ROCKIES strongly


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
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Tim Stauffer 4-6 11 11 0 0 0 0 59.1 61 25 23 7 21 47 3.49 1.38
Esmil Rogers gets the call from AAA to make his MLB debut, allowing Ubaldo Jimenez to push forward to the Giants series.  Rogers, who is listed at 145 pounds in the Rockies program (a bit outdated), dominated AA Tulsa before getting the call to AAA, where his statistics took a sound beating.  Security Service Field didn't help, where he sustained a ridiculous .434 BABIP against.  He'll need to watch his walks more than anything, as very little of that can be blamed on altitude.  May he take after another Domincan hurler.  In 9 of Tim Stauffer's 11 starts, he allowed 3 runs or less, and in the two outliers, he only permitted four.  He has consistently given San Diego chances to win games, and they've won the last three times he took the mound.  He has dealt with pitch count issues though, only getting past the fifth inning twice in his lasat seven outings.  Perhaps the Rockies' patented patience will render him ineffective.  His four pitches come in around 90, 85, 80 and 75 on average, led by a strong slider.  His fastball has only been used half the time this season.  Favors:  PADRES moderately


Sunday, September 13, 2:05 MDT
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Jason Marquis 15-10 32 28 2 1 0 0 189.2 185 83 77 12 60 95 3.65 1.29
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Clayton Richard 4-2 8 8 0 0 0 0 40.0 45 24 24 6 23 31 5.40 1.70
THAT's the Jason Marquis I know.  The 15-game winner returned to form after two subpar outings while recording a season high in strikeouts.  He has absolutely tormented the Padres this season, allowing just 1 run in 16 innings over two starts, one at each ballpark.  He induced 17 ground balls in both.  More of the same please, Jason.  Clayton Richard came over in the Jake Peavy deal.  He's a five pitch lefty, utilizing a fastball, slider, cutter, curve and change, though the curve is used far less than even Aaron Cook uses his.  He can pump it to the mid-90's but sits in the lower 90's.  He could pose a problem for Rockies' hitters, as he has taken to Petco Park very well, going 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA in four starts there, though he has been torched by Atlanta and San Francisco once each in his last three starts.  Aside from Rogers' debut the day before, this pitching matchup interests me most.  Favors: ROCKIES moderately.

 

 

33_15_10---fire-flame-texture_web_mediumHearth 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.


Ice

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.  

 

Bandaid_mediumOutfielders 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).

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