Series Preview: Braves Debut Suntrust Park Against Padres

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Credit: USA Today Sports

Don’t look now, but the San Diego Padres have managed to win some games in this young season. The team presumed to be the worst in baseball is 5-5 after the first 10 games of the 2017 season.

This season is still very young, and the pain Padre fans will endure is still ahead. However, this team has been fun to watch out the gate, and they look competitive.

After taking two of three from the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field, the Padres now make a trek across the country to the east coast, where they will play a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves.

Once this series ends, the Padres will have played 11 games on the road. They played three games at Petco Park. They have a lot of road games to start the season.

The Braves have a new venue this season, and they will show it off to the baseball world on April 14, the first game of their series against the Padres.

Not much is known about this new ballpark. We haven’t gotten to watch any games played in it…. yet. What we do know is the dimensions. The distance to straightaway center field is 400 feet. Dead left is 335 feet. Dead right is 330 feet, the shortest distance for a ball to travel. However, there’s a catch to hitting home runs out of right field. The wall in right is 16 feet high. Balls hit to right field will need to have some significant air to clear the fence.

Can Ryan Schimpf hit a ball high enough to clear the wall in right? I guess we will find out.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Jhoulys Chacin (1-1, 8.10 ERA) vs. Julio Teheran (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Atlanta Braves ace, Julio Teheran (pronounced Tey-ron), hasn’t allowed any earned runs through his first two starts of the season.

The Colombian-born pitcher started for Atlanta on April 3 against The New York Mets at Citi Field. He pitched six shutout innings against New York, no easy feat considering the Mets’ lineup.

On April 9, Teheran made the start at PNC Park against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates scored two runs over the seven innings he pitched, but neither run was earned.

Through two starts, opponents are hitting .222 against Teheran. He has a 1.08 WHIP. This will be a challenge for the Padres’ young hitters.

Jhoulys Chacin pitched a gem in his last start at San Francisco. He out-dueled Madison Bumgarner with 6.2 shutout innings. It was the complete opposite of his start at Los Angeles on April 3.

Chacin will need to find whatever magic he had when he pitched against San Francisco. He kept pace with Bumgarner, but now he will have to keep pace with Teheran. That’s not exactly a walk in the park.

Game 2: Clayton Richard (1-1, 2.57 ERA) vs. R.A. Dickey (0-1, 4.76 ERA)

R.A. Dickey, also known as the pitcher born without a UCL, has made one start so far this season. He started on April 8 at Pittsburgh. Dickey gave up six runs, though only three were earned. Unearned runs seem to be an early trend in Atlanta.

Dickey pitched 5.2 innings, allowing nine hits and four walks. The top six hitters in the Padres lineup could be smiling at the thought of facing a pitcher who gives up a lot of hits. However, it’s only one start, so it’s too early to tell what kind of pitcher Dickey will be against San Diego.

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Clayton Richard gave up five runs against the San Francisco Giants on April 9. He struggled to keep the ball down in the zone like he did against Los Angeles on April 3, and allowed two home runs in Petco.

Richard will need to make an effort to keep the ball down in the zone against Atlanta, or they could turn his below-90 mph fastballs into souvenirs for fans sitting in the outfield seats.

Game 3: Jarred Cosart (0-0, 3.86 ERA) vs. Bartolo Colon (0-1, 6.30 ERA)

Bartolo Colon, the man they call “Big Sexy,” is an infamous figure in San Diego Padres lore. Last season, he hit his first career home run, at 43 years old, against the Padres.

As far as pitching goes, his last start wasn’t great. He pitched four innings against Miami, allowing six runs on seven hits. However, he pitched six innings and only allowed one run against the Mets on April 5. It’s difficult to tell which Colon will show up on Easter Sunday.

Either way, just getting to watch him play will be a joy. “Big Sexy” is the gift that keeps on giving.

Cosart pitched well enough to win against Colorado on April 10, but he only pitched four innings, and wasn’t eligible for the win. He kept Colorado scoreless (something that is hard to do in Coors Field).

Game 4: Jered Weaver (0-1, 4.91 ERA) vs. Jaime Garcia (0-1, 5.73 ERA)

Jaime Garcia is left-handed. The Padres have struggled against lefties this season, but those lefties were Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw.

Garcia has allowed seven earned runs in two starts. However, he’s left-handed. It’s hard to tell how this one will go. Of course, given his numbers, it’s likely the Padres could have a good day against Garcia.

Jered Weaver was crafty in his last start, at Colorado on April 11. He gave up just two runs, both via solo home runs, something to be expected at Coors Field.

However, his curve ball was efficient, as he used it to strike out five hitters over six innings pitched. He will need his curve to work that well again when he faces Atlanta on April 17.

Players to watch

Manuel Margot: Margot has been on a tear in this young season. He’s hitting .325, and seven of his 13 hits have gone for extra bases. Margot could emerge as a Rookie of the Year candidate.

Padres outfielders: As mentioned above, Suntrust Park has a lot of space in the outfield. It will be interesting to watch Margot and Travis Jankowski, both speedy outfielders, running down fly balls in this giant playground.

The Verdict

Don’t be surprised to see this one end in a split. The Padres will struggle against Teheran on April 14. They should have success against Dickey and Colon. Their performance against Garcia is tough to call. Also, the chances of Weaver having another brilliant performance in his next start isn’t something anyone should bet on.

When this series ends, the Padres could be 7-7.

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