The Padres are arguably at the lowest point they have been at throughout the course of this short season. Through their first 68 games, San Diego sits at an underwhelming fourth place in the National League West at 33-35.
After a rough two-game sweep at the hands of the lowly San Francisco Giants, many have started to wonder whether or not the Padres will be able to hang around in the standings this year, or if 2019 is yet another disappointment.
The schedule will be no less forgiving. Starting on Thursday, the Padres will start a four-game series against the Colorado Rockies, who have surged into second place in the division after a slow start to the year. Colorado has won ten of their last 11 games at home and will prove to be formidable as the Padres look to get back on track and into the thick of the Wild Card picture once again.
Game one will feature the return of Matt Strahm from the IL, requiring some rest after suffering a strained rib. Strahm has arguably been the Padres’ second most consistent starter after Chris Paddack and has made a fairly seamless transition to the rotation.
Though his workload will be monitored throughout the course of the season, he should continue to be a prominent feature in the rotation until his innings limit is reached later in the season.
The Rockies will counter with Jon Gray, who has flashed both potential and negativity throughout his young 2019 season. While Gray has been pretty inconsistent this season, his career numbers against the Padres should give him some encouragement. In 17 career starts against San Diego, Gray is 9-3 with a 2.70 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 103 1/3 innings. His dominance against the Padres should give the Rockies some confidence heading into the series opener tonight.
In Game Two, Cal Quantrill looks to build off of his last start against the Philadelphia Phillies. Quantrill was able to pitch five innings of two-run ball while striking out seven, and was in line for his second win before the bullpen blew the lead late in the game.
Fastball command will be paramount for Quantrill to have success against this deep Rockies lineup, who will make him pay if he’s unable to locate his fastball. If he can, he’ll be able to keep hitters off balance and utilize his plus changeup.
The Rockies will turn to Jeff Hoffman on Friday night. Hoffman has struggled his way to an ERA over eight and a WHIP over 1.5. Hoffman’s strikeouts (10.2 K/9) and walks (2.5 BB/9) are right around where they need to be to keep a pitcher successful, but he’s just been missing around the zone too often (33 hits allowed in 25 2/3 innings).
His peripherals show that he’s been the victim of some bad luck mixed with general ineffectiveness. Still, he could pose a challenge to a slumping Padres lineup that is prone to striking out by the bushel.
Game Three features the Padres hottest starter of late in Eric Lauer. In his past four starts, Lauer is 3-1 with a 2.13 ERA, walking just six and allowing 17 hits in just over 25 innings.
While Lauer got hammered in his MLB debut last year at Coors Field (3 IP, 8 ER), he should be better this time around. He’s been spotting his low 90s fastball better and has been throwing his slider more in plus counts.
In the last calendar year, Lauer is 8-8 with a 3.63 ERA over 138 1/3 innings, to go with 7.6 K/9. Somewhat impressive for a second-year starter who is pegged to be a back-end of the rotation starter when it’s all said and done.
The Rockies will send their “ace” German Márquez to take on Lauer. Similarly to Lauer, Márquez has enjoyed some success this year which can be evidenced by his 4.13 ERA (half of his starts coming at Coors). Márquez features an electric fastball that will consistently sit in the mid to upper 90s, and he has big strikeout stuff (259 strikeouts in his last 225 innings pitched).
In the finale, the Padres will have Nick Margevicius make his third start since returning from Double-A Amarillo. After his rough return against the Miami Marlins (3 IP, 4 ER), Margevicius rebounded in an opener-esque role against the Nationals (3 2/3 IP, 3 H, 0 ER) in just over 50 pitches.
The Padres may be onto something here, as Margevicius is more than serviceable the first time through the order (.217 BAA, 5.0 K/BB) before starting to fall apart the second time through (.318 BAA, 1.83 K/BB). If they decide to piggyback his starts with, say, Miguel Diaz, it could be an ideal way to utilize his abilities and get the most out of his starts.
Peter Lambert counters for the Rockies. Lambert, Colorado’s second-rounder in 2015, has impressed since making his debut. He’s posted a 1.50 ERA in his first 12 innings, to go with 12 strikeouts and only three walks. There’s still not really a “book” on Lambert as he is making his third career start, so Padres hitters will have to roll with the punches and make adjustments as they try to navigate Sunday’s series finale.
Hitters to Watch
Wil Myers: When you think of Wil Myers and Coors Field, it’s natural to reminisce about his cycle there in 2017. What’s also notable, however, is that Myers tends to hit (and hit well) when he plays at Coors Field. Among all the ballparks he has played in, Myers sports his second-best batting average (.358 in 137 PAs) and slugging percentage (.683, 19 XBHs) at Coors.
He has been slumping in an otherworldly fashion lately (he’s one for his last 23 with a 30% K rate), but if there’s one place that Myers can break out (even briefly), it’ll be in Colorado.
David Dahl: Sure, the Rockies lineup is deep and filled with power hitters such as Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story (among others). But the one-hitter the Padres may have their hands full with the most is Dahl. Over the past month, Dahl is slashing .337/.388/.599/.987 with ten home runs and 38 RBI. He’s been Colorado’s hottest hitter and has to be treated as such if the Padres want any chance of taming him this weekend. Oh, and not to mention he’s a career .299 hitter against the Padres with more hits against San Diego (20) than any other club in his career besides the Dodgers (22).