Petco Park, San Diego California
Thursday 3/29 – Saturday 3/31
Well, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but we actually did it. We made it through the baseball offseason. And what an offseason it’s been for the San Diego Padres. The Friars are starting to gain national relevance for their signing of Eric Hosmer, as well as their talented farm system, which is considered by many to be the best farm system in all of baseball.
The regular season starts this Thursday, March 29th against the Milwaukee Brewers.
For myself, this is really a breath of fresh air, as this is the first time in quite a few years that the Padres don’t have to face Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Instead they’ll be facing Chase Anderson and the Milwaukee Brewers.
With that, let’s get to breaking down these match-ups.
Game 1: Chase Anderson (2017: 12-4, 2.74 ERA) vs. Clayton Richard (2017: 8-15, 4.79 ERA)
Opening Day is baseball’s version of Christmas, and with any new season, the possibilities are endless. With that being said, the Padres face a formidable opponent in Milwaukee’s Anderson, who leads a staff that will attempt to make a run at a Wild Card spot this season (at the very least). He was really good throughout the course of the season last year, especially in September, when he posted a 2.06 ERA to go along with four wins. He’s definitely no slouch, and the Padres will have their work cut out with him.
Richard, on the other hand, is the Padres’ most reliable, consistent arm and figures to keep them in each and every game he pitches. He logged 197 1/3IP last season, the most on the Padres by far. He also recorded his second highest strikeout/walk ratio of his career, as well as throwing two complete games. Richard isn’t going to blow anyone away with ace-like stuff, but he’s a steady face that should be able to keep the Padres in the game long enough to turn it over to their formidable bullpen.
Game 2: Jhoulys Chacin (2017: 13-10, 3.89 ERA) vs TBD
In Game 2 of the Opening Series, old friend and Padres workhorse Jhoulys Chacín takes the mound for Milwaukee. Just a season ago, Chacín had somewhat of a career revival with the Padres after winning 13 games and posting the second-lowest home ERA in the majors (1.79). While it’s evident that Chacín thrives at Petco Park (his .185 BAA is his lowest in any ballpark), the Padres can still find way to get to him, most notably by attacking him early and often in counts. His .344/.341/.535 opponent slash line on the first pitch of at-bats is telling, and will probably be the Padres’ most likely way to score some runs.
On the Padre side of things, the injury to Dinelson Lamet has complicated matters for who will take the ball in the second game of the season. Lamet, who injured his elbow in his final spring tune-up, was slated to be the Padres’ #2 starter, but will miss at least a month. Therefore, the Padres will likely turn to Bryan Mitchell, or perhaps Robbie Erlin. Common sense says Erlin as Mitchell reportedly threw in Arizona on Wednesday. While this situation poses questions of its own, Lamet’s injury also begs the question: Who takes his spot to fill out the rotation? Since Chris Young was recently released by the Padres, it seems as though Tyson Ross will take the team’s #5 spot in the rotation. Ross should start the first game of the road trip next week in Houston.
In the series finale, Brent Suter takes the mound for the Brewers. Suter is the only lefty that the Padres will see in this series, so it’ll be interesting to see how Andy Green tinkers with the lineup. Personally, I think this would be an ideal opportunity for Hunter Renfroe to make his season debut, as well as putting Jose Pirela at second base. Suter was decent in his 14 starts with the Brewers last season, including posting 1.8 WAR. He has the make-up to become a solid major league starter if he can utilize his whole arsenal of pitches and execute his location. He will not strike very many batters out, as his average fastball is well below hitting speed (87 mph), but can keep hitters off balance with his change of pace.
To counter, the Padres turn to Perdomo, a 2015 Rule 5 Pick who will now begin his third season with San Diego. Perdomo’s been an interesting case in his tenure with the Padres, and after posting a really solid rookie campaign, he dropped the ball a little last year and seemingly took a step backwards. Now, with reports of his work ethic improving and showing flashes of brilliance throughout spring training, the Padres believe that this could be a crucial year for Perdomo’s development, and whether or not he will factor into their plans long-term. This will be his first opportunity to show his team how much he’s improved.
Hitters to Watch
Christian Yelich (MIL): After posting yet another solid season with Miami, Yelich was shipped out to Milwaukee for a package that included top prospect Lewis Brinson. With his new club, Yelich is expected to lead off and play left field, as well as provide the potential for a 20-20 season.
Ryan Braun (MIL): Arguably the face of the franchise, he posted yet another solid season last year, even though he only registered just over 400 plate appearances. What I’m most eager to see is Braun shifting over to first base, a position that he picked up in spring training after the acquisitions of Yelich and Lorenzo Cain. While it’s not uncommon for outfielders to shift over to first base (Will Myers), there will still be a bit of a learning curve for Braun nonetheless.
Orlando Arcia (MIL): Arcia has all the tools to become a really good major league player. He has the potential for Gold Glove defense at short, and his bat (which was in question before last season) has responded to the doubters. He could be primed for a breakout campaign this year, one in which he goes for 20-20 and flirts with a .300 batting average.
Eric Hosmer (SD): Everyone’s been very eager to see what Hosmer can do now that the regular season is underway. With talks of him potentially fixing his launch angle and starting to hit more line drives and fly balls, he could wow everyone and hit 30 homers this year, to go along with a high batting average and above average knowledge of the strike zone. Oh, and not to mention his Gold Glove-caliber defense at first base, which can only help sinkerballers such as Perdomo and Richard.
Austin Hedges (SD): Everyone (myself included) got really excited when Hedges was launching balls early in spring training, his swing looking simplified and efficient. Then, the second week rolled around, and Hedges looked right back where he was last year, lunging for balls and looking uncomfortable at the plate, culminating in an 0-28 slide to end the spring. We know the defense is there, but a solid showing this year at the plate could thrust Hedges into talks about being one of the best young catchers in the game.
Jose Pirela (SD): Ever since he came up last June, all this guy has done has hit. Pirela was arguably the Padres’ best hitter last year, and once he finished T2 in the Cactus League in batting average (.385), he’s got people wondering if he is actually the real deal. While he will likely open the year as the Padres’ starting left fielder, don’t be surprised to see Pirela getting some action in at second base, to give Hunter Renfroe more opportunities against good lefties.
Sammy is a 2021 graduate/college baseball player with a degree in economics from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Currently, he resides in a suburb of Portland called Lake Oswego. Sammy previously wrote for EVT from November 2017-November 2019, and is back again as of April 2022.
In his free time, Sammy enjoys spending time outside, playing golf, and watching his hometown Padres.