Opening series of 2021: Padres vs. Diamondbacks preview

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Credit: Arizona Republic

The San Diego Padres open the 2021 season on April 1 with a four-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Game One

The probable pitching matchup will be Yu Darvish for the Padres versus Madison Bumgarner for the Diamondbacks.

This will be a great game one matchup as Darvish is coming off his best season after finishing second in the Cy Young voting, and Bumgarner is coming off his worst season as a starter. Darvish will be making his first official start as a Padre after being traded from the Chicago Cubs during the offseason, and he will look to carry over last season’s success into 2021. As for the former World Series MVP, Bumgarner is looking to bounce back in year two of a five-year 85 million dollar contract and regain the All-Star form that he displayed with the San Francisco Giants.

Game Two

The Probable pitching matchup will be Blake Snell toeing the rubber for the Padres versus Luke Weaver for the Diamondbacks.

If you thought Game one had a great matchup, then you’re in for a treat for game two. The former 2018 American League Cy Young award winner Snell will be making his first official start for the Padres after being acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in the offseason.

Snell looks towards a fresh start with the Padres after his departure from the Rays ended in some controversy after being pulled in game six of the World Series, which he was completely dominating. The Rays ended up losing that game and the Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers. As for Luke Weaver, he hopes to bounce back after a disappointing 2020, in which he went 1-9 with a 6.58 ERA. The Diamondbacks hope that he can regain his form that he displayed with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Game Three

The probable pitching matchup will be Joe Musgrove for the Padres against Caleb Smith for the Diamondbacks.

Hometown kid Joe Musgrove will be pitching in front of family and friends for the first time as a San Diego Padre. AJ Preller was busy in the offseason as Musgrove was acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates after going 1-5 with a 3.86 ERA last season.

Padres Joe Musgrove
Credit: Padres Zoom

It will be no easy task to follow the first two starters that the Padres threw out at the beginning of the series, but the 28-year-old looks to carry over last season’s late success into 2021. Caleb Smith is coming off a short season in 2020 in where he pitched 14 innings with a 2.57 ERA. Having only started 50 games in his four-year career, Smith looks to provide the Diamondbacks with a reliable number three starter.

Game Four

The Probable pitching matchup to wrap up the series will be Chris Paddack for the Padres versus Merrill Kelly for the Diamondbacks.

Paddack is coming off a rocky 2020 in which he went 4-5 with a 4.73 ERA, and his development will be huge for the success of this team this season.

The Texas native hopes that he can regain his rookie form from 2019 and provide the Padres a solid starter in the back end of the rotation. As for Kelly, he is coming off an impressive 2020 in which he went 3-2 with a 2.59 ERA. This will be Kelly’s third Major League Season, and he hopes that he can slide in as the number four starter for the Diamondbacks.

San Diego Padres Players to Watch for

The three players you should watch for are Darvish, Snell, and Paddack. All three have something to prove, and if the Padres want to compete for a championship, they are going to need their pitching to perform well. Darvish is 34 years old, and while last season might be a fluke, the change of atmosphere might do him good. It will be interesting to see how a new environment might affect him. He has only had a sub-3 ERA once before last year, so it will be interesting to see which Darvish shows up for the Padres in 2021.

Snell also has something to prove after being acquired and pegged as one of the guys that can take the Padres to the next level and challenge the Dodges in the National League West. Snell had battled some injuries in the past and hasn’t really recaptured his 2018 form when he was baseball’s best hurler. Snell gets a fresh start with the padres and gets a chance to show people that he can still be that guy from 2018.

Credit: Arizona Republic-USA TODAY NETWORK

Paddack might be the biggest wild card for the Padres. He regressed in 2020 and had the “sophomore slump.” However, if the Padres hope to challenge the Dodgers, they are going to need Paddack to gain some of his 2019 form and be a guy that they can rely on upon constantly. He has had a rocky spring training posting a 5.19 ERA, so it will be interesting to see how he performs in his first start.

Arizona Diamondbacks to Watch for

The three players that you should watch for are Bumgarner, Kelly, and Eduardo Escobar. Bumgarner signed a huge contract back in 2019 to be the number one starter for the Diamondbacks and bring over his postseason presence and success. He was a shell of himself in 2020, and 2021 will be a big sign of things to come for the 31-year-old as Arizona wonders whether he can regain his old form or if his contract will prove to be a disaster.

This year is huge for Kelly as he will get an opportunity to be a full-time starter. The Arizona native will be an interesting factor for the Diamondbacks because he is being given the opportunity to prove that he can be a big contributor for them from now on.

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Escobar can play himself onto a winning team this season. In 2019, he was one of the top third basemen in the league after hitting .269 with 35 home runs and 118 RBI’s, only to follow that up with a disappointing 2020 campaign in which he hit .212 with four homers and 20 RBI’s in 54 games. The Diamondbacks are in full-on rebuild mode, and if Escobar plays well enough, he can be a valuable trade piece that can bring back some valuable young prospects.

The series opener between the Padres and Diamondbacks looks to be a great one highlighted by great pitching matchups.

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