As I mentioned ad nauseum in the NL West Report yesterday, the Padres have managed to go four consecutive weeks without suffering a losing week. Look at the roster and the schedule, and you had better respect that. In fact, San Diego has won 10 of their past 13 series (and 12 of 16), with two of the losses coming against the mighty Cardinals. Four of the wins came against playoff contenders on the road.
Their pitching has stabilized dramatically, but also, as with many young teams, some of the youth in the lineup has started to figure things out at the plate. Chase Headley, Everth Cabrera, and Will Venable have all been steadily improving. You could point to their 30-45 record on the road as a big weakness, but I wouldn't let you without understanding that they are 17-14 on the road since the ASB, including being winners of 11 of 16 away from PetCo.
Then consider Kevin Kouzmanoff could finally return this series, meaning Bud Black doesn't have to use guys like Edgar Gonzalez in the outfield. Is there reason to be optimistic? Well, duh. The Rockies are much better team, they dominate at home (especially lately), and Colorado has the starting pitching edge in each game. Plus, San Diego was busy playing an extra inning game in the eastern time zone while the Rockies sat comfortably through an off day in Denver following a day game. Rest is on our side. I just wanted to worry you a little. We really ought to win this series, San Diego's recent history be damned.
In light of Rox Girl's article this afternoon, I'll leave out the Scoreboard Watch that debuted last week, but I will remember to include the link to Gaslamp Ball.
(69-82, W3, 4th, 21.5 GB)
Friday-Sunday: 3-game series at Coors Field
The Bats: D+
As I mentioned last time, the Padres do not appear to be a good offensive club statistically. They are at or near the MLB cellar in batting average, runs, stolen bases and wOBA. But even the Yankees and Phillies would look terrible playing in PetCo Park. The team just scored 11 runs yesterday on the road - a game in which youngster Chase Headley had five hits - and their 94 team OPS+ almost makes them an average NL offense.
The return of the Kouz could help. He has been out since September 8th with a calf strain but took batting practice and was given an "outside shot" to return to the lineup yesterday. He did not, but I infer that means he should be back this series. The return of the third baseman would allow Chase Headley to slide back to left. Here's the lineup:
|Everth Cabrera - SS||.267||2||30||.352||.377||.330||102|
|David Eckstein - 2B||.264||1||45||.321||.338||.295||83|
|Adrian Gonzalez - 1B||.273||39||92||.398||.557||.398||161|
|Kevin Kouzmanoff - 3B||.257||17||84||.304||.421||.313||99|
|Chase Headley - LF||.266||12||61||.342||.408||.333||107|
|Will Venable - RF||.270||11||33||.337||.463||.349||119|
|Nick Hundley - C||.233||7||27||.309||.401||.309||95|
|Tony Gwynn Jr - CF||.266||1||17||.344||.333||.302||89|
That's not an intimidating lineup, but they aren't really pushovers either. Judging from the multitude of stats, A-Gone is a bona fide All-Star while Will Venable is a very strong MLB starter. Headley and Cabrera are competently average if not slightly stronger, and Nick Hundley is young an improving to the average area. Gwynn and Eckstein are below average, but they aren't dragging the offense down as much as most lineups we have seen recently.
Drew Macias (.174, 1, 6) and Luis Durango (4-for-6) are the 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+
I feel like I'm having serious de ja vu. First, we face Lincecum/Zito/Cain in order in a series twice in two weeks. Now we're facing Mujica/Stauffer/Richard in order. Again. The last time it happened, the Rockies eeked out one additional win the second go-round. If they do it again, that means a series win.
The above phenomenon points to something San Diego hasn't had much this season - stability, and that's always a plus. They still have a staff tRA north of five, but as we saw last time, they can still be a threat. Mujica, Stauffer and Richard held the Rockies to just 4 runs on 8 hits over 15 IP. Past that, the bullpen is improving its stability and talent as well. They just got setup man Mike Adams back, finally. Of the 13 pitchers in the bullpen, only 3 have ERA+'s south of 100. Take of that what you will.
|2009 - Heath Bell||6-4||64||0||0||0||39||5||65.2||49||21||21||3||22||72||2.88||1.08|
Wade LeBlanc (95 ERA+), Joe Thatcher (155), Cesar Ramos (3.0 IP, 0 ER) and Aaron Poreda (0.2 IP, 0 ER) are Bud Black's left-handed options, a rich goodie bag that will help against a left-handed dominant Rockies team. The right side of the pen is inhabited by Mike Adams (434 ERA+), Luke Gregerson (127), Adam Russell (100), Greg Burke (86), Ryan Webb (100), Luis Perdomo (81), Ernesto Frieri (has not appeared), and Sean Gallagher (5.0 IP, 0 ER).
The D: C-
San Diego's 87 errors places them right in the middle of the NL, but they have the second-worst UZR only to the Mets. Fangraphs' UZR based rating system places them just shy of average. Should Kouzmanoff return, he'll provide a boost defensively on the infield, but Headley isn't an asset at Coors in LF.
Tonight, 6:40 pm MDT
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Edward Mujica
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Jorge De La Rosa
Wednesday, September 23, 6:40 MDT
|2009 - Tim Stauffer||4-7||13||13||0||0||0||0||68.1||68||29||27||8||29||50||3.56||1.42|
|2009 - Jason Marquis||15-11||35||30||2||1||0||0||201.1||199||92||86||14||69||105||3.84||1.33|
|2009 - Clayton Richard||4-2||10||10||0||0||0||0||51.0||52||28||27||6||29||44||4.76||1.59|
|2009 - Jason Hammel||9-8||31||28||1||0||0||0||163.1||188||88||79||14||41||117||4.35||1.40|
Adrian Gonzalez has five home runs this month, including one yesterday. Chase Headley, Nick Hundley, Oscar Salazar and Will Venable each have two, with the H-men hovering around .300 for the month of September. Everth Cabrera is working a modest six game hit streak. Luke Gregorson, Aaron Poreda, Joe Thatcher, Mike Adams, Sean Gallagher, Ryan Webb and Cesar Ramos have combined to allow just 3 ER over their combined 41 September appearances.
Heath Bell blew another save last night in Pittsburgh, giving him three blown saves in his last five chances. He seems to be the only reliever getting hit around these days. In fact, he is. Only he (6.00) and Adam Russell (4.05) have a Sept ERA higher than 4. Luis Rodriguez is hitless in 14 straight AB's.
Outfielders Brian Giles and Kyle Blanks are on the 15-day DL, though neither will return this season. 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).