Series Preview: Padres Face World Champion Astros on the Road

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Minute Maid Park, Houston TX

Friday 4/6-Sunday 4/8

After starting off their opening home stand in a poor 1-6 fashion, the Padres get the reward of traveling to Houston to face the defending champion Astros, who are off to a hot 6-1 start.

Game 1 (5:10 PT): Luis Perdomo (0-1, 11.25 ERA) vs. Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 3.38 ERA)

In the Padres’ first road game of the season, Luis Perdomo will get the difficult task of trying to navigate Houston’s dangerous lineup that can be considered one of the best in baseball. After Perdomo’s clunker in his first start, he’ll have to start showing Andy Green and the Padres’ coaching staff that he can produce at the major league level, or he’ll soon find his way towards El Paso. One thing that Perdomo does have going for him is his elite ground ball rate, which was top-three in the majors last season. If Perdomo can keep his sinker down in the zone and away from the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and the rest of the Astros lineup, his pure stuff could help carry him to a quality start.

Toeing the rubber for the Astros is Lance McCullers Jr., who’s looking to build on his last start against the Rangers, where he picked up a victory. McCullers started for the Astros in Game Seven of the World Series and helped get Houston their first title. He’ll now look to build on a solid 2017 campaign in which he went 7-4 with a 4.25 ERA over 22 starts. Ever since he came into the league, McCullers has had the potential to be a Cy Young candidate, but he’s been unable to put together a complete season due to injuries and ineffectiveness. He’ll look to build on his early success when he starts on Friday.

Game 2 (4:10 PT): Bryan Mitchell (0-1, 9.00 ERA) vs. Gerrit Cole (1-0, 1.29 ERA)

In the second game of the series, Bryan Mitchell will also try to rebound from a dreadful first start in which he gave up five runs over five innings and had a 52% strike rate. Those numbers will obviously not lead to much success, and a big part of Mitchell’s inability to throw strikes was the fact that he was unable to throw his curveball off of his fastball as much as he would have liked. Mitchell only had four swinging misses overall, and didn’t register a strikeout, falling behind early and often. If Mitchell is going to improve on his first start, he’ll have to throw more strikes and have a better feel for his curveball, which can be one of the best in the majors when it’s on.

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Houston trots out yet another solid arm in Cole for the second game of the series. Like McCullers, Cole was solid in his first start, going seven strong innings and striking out 11, looking like the same guy who was dominant for the Pirates in 2015. Cole is a true workhorse who gave the Pirates at least 19 starts in each of his five seasons, and shows no signs of slowing down with the Astros. He is definitely a candidate to thrive after a change of scenery, and after his first start, he could be well on his way to a successful 2018.

Game 3 (11:10 PT): Tyson Ross (1-0, 4.50 ERA) vs. Charlie Morton (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

In the series finale, Tyson Ross will take the ball for the Padres, looking to build on a promising first start of the season. After coming into the year with a slew of questions, Ross impressed in his first start since the second half of 2017 with the Texas Rangers. Now, with his velocity back up and his slider enticing swinging misses, Ross looks as though he may try to capture some of his form that he showed with the Padres in 2014, where he struck out 195 batters over 195.2 innings to go with a 2.81 ERA. If Ross can harness at least some of his success he had the past few years, he can easily become San Diego’s most valuable starter.

In the other dugout, Charlie Morton will make his second start of the season after going six scoreless innings in his debut against the Orioles. Morton’s heavy, bowling ball sinker, that can reach triple digits, will be his key to success in the final game of the series. When his pitches have their customary late break, he can become one of the steadier pitchers in any rotation, which is why he had so much success in the 2017 postseason. His performance in Game Four and Game Seven of the World Series is the type of pitcher that he can become when he’s on, and the same pitcher that the Padres need to watch out for.

Hitters to Watch

Manuel Margot (SD): Margot has been off to a really slow start, but after hitting his first home run of the season on Thursday against Wade Davis, he may be showing signs of life. He’s going to have to face three tough righties, but he’ll have to start showing sustained success if he is to take the leap that many evaluators believe he will.

Credit: USA Today

Cory Spangenberg (SD): Since Wil Myers hit the DL, Spangenberg could be the recipient of a larger role in the Padres’ lineup, logging a start in left in the series against Colorado. He’ll also get the chance to face three right-handers this weekend, so he could be a candidate for making consistent hard contact.

Carlos Asuaje (SD): Another recipient of an increased role, Asuaje has been holding his own since the season begun. If he can continue to put up decent numbers from the fifth or sixth spot in the lineup, Asuaje could continue to hold off the inevitable promotion of Luis Urias.

Carlos Correa (HOU): If you had to pick a player who’s started the season out hot, look no further than Correa. He is absolutely thriving in the middle of the Astros’ lineup, already hitting .474 with a 1.469 OPS. In a lineup filled with potent weapons, Correa may be the most dangerous at the current time, with a couple of favorable matchups on the way.

Josh Reddick (HOU): Known mostly last season for his struggles in the World Series, Reddick has come out with a vengeance to start 2018, including a .353 average and a three-hit game already to his credit. The Astros have been experimenting and put Roddick in the fourth spot in the order in their last game, where he thrived. No matter where he’s at, expect solid at-bats and consistent hard contact.

Jose Altuve (HOU): There’s pretty much nothing else this guy has to prove, he is decidedly the best pure hitter in the game today. He picked up right where he left off in 2017, and is proving to be a force in the middle of the Astros’ lineup. Lets just say the Padres will have their work cut out with Altuve this weekend.

1 thought on “Series Preview: Padres Face World Champion Astros on the Road

  1. Great job on this article. It’s going to be a tough series, hopefully the Pads can take one and not get swept!

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