San Diego Padres vs Arizona Diamondbacks
Chase Field, Phoenix, AZ
After building some promising momentum against the San Francisco Giants last week, the Padres effectively sputtered out and suffered an embarrassing sweep at the hands of the L.A. Dodgers.
Now, they’ll hopefully try to rebound, but they’ll have to do so on the road against the NL West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks.
Luckily, the Padres should be closer to full strength, as they have just recently activated Kirby Yates (Luis Perdomo was optioned), and Wil Myers should make his return this weekend (Manuel Margot is close to activation as well).
In the series opener, the Padres will send one of their steadier arms to the mound in Tyson Ross. After getting swept this past weekend and forcing the bullpen to do some seriously heavy lifting (18 IP in the last series), Ross will hopefully give the Padres yet another quality start, something he’s been pretty good at this season. While he only has two in three starts, Ross has looked increasingly better in each of his successive starts this year, going six innings in each one. He will be tested in this start against the hot-hitting Diamondbacks, but Ross has shown that he can tame quality offenses, throwing for six innings and three earned against the Rockies, and six innings on four earned against the defending champion Astros.
On the other side, rookie Matt Koch will get the start for Arizona after the injury to Taijuan Walker. Making his first career start, Koch will get the first crack at replacing Walker in the rotation, who has been lost for the season due to Tommy John surgery. Koch is an interesting, journeyman-type case, who will be pitching in only his third career MLB game as a 27-year-old. While there isn’t really an advanced scouting report on his tendencies and pitching style, the Padres will hopefully have a good chance to score early and often if they are aggressive against the rookie.
In the second game of the series, Padres workhorse Clayton Richard will take the mound. Richard has essentially been what the Padres have expected of him so far this season, with one borderline anomaly of a start on Opening Day, where he went seven innings and allowed one run. Since that start, he has thrown 15 innings, and given up 13 earned runs, good for a 7.80 ERA. However, his presence alone on the mound is another welcome sight for the Padres’ bullpen, since he is a valuable innings-eater and should be able to fight his way through at least five innings and give the bullpen a much-needed rest.
The Diamondbacks will counter with who could arguably one of the better sleep picks for the Cy Young this year, Zack Godley. While it’s pretty ambitious to make this claim for someone who has never made more than 25 starts in a season, Godley has the stuff to compete and become an above-average major league starter, which was evidenced by his 9.6 SO/9 last season over 155 IP. After throwing a clunker in his last start, Godley is going to be eager to rebound, and the Padres are going to have to work hard to capitalize on the mistakes.
In the series finale, new Padres de facto ace Joey Lucchesi takes the mound for another much-anticipated start. In his first four starts, Lucchesi has been nothing short of everything that the Padres have hoped for, with an astounding 25:4 K/BB ratio, in just over 21 innings. The first pitcher of the 2016 draft class to make his debut, Lucchesi has undoubtedly been the Padres’ best pitcher this season, and if he keeps it up, he could start to build a serious case for NL Rookie of the Year honors.
Patrick Corbin will start for the Diamondbacks in the series finale, looking to build on his already strong campaign. In his sixth full season in the majors, Corbin may also be in the conversation for a Cy Young after a brilliant start to the season that has seen him strike out 37 batters over just 27 innings, good for a 12.2 SO/9. While that is way above his career average of 8.0 SO/9 and is likely to regress, it’s worth noting that Corbin is in a contract year, and will likely try to prove his raised value before entering a star-studded free agent class this winter.
Hitters to Watch:
Wil Myers (SD): Due to come back this weekend after a nagging elbow nerve injury, it will be interesting to see how Myers comes back and produces at the top of the Padres’ lineup. With any luck, he’ll be in the lineup as early as Saturday.
Franchy Cordero (SD): He’s been pretty solid since he was called up last week, save for his 0-5, four strikeout performance against the Dodgers on Wednesday. With Manuel Margot and Wil Myers both due back by the end of the weekend, Franchy is going to have to prove he belongs over the likes of Matt Szczur and Hunter Renfroe.
Christian Villanueva (SD): Villanueva continues to prove all the doubters wrong by leading NL Rookies in home runs and toting a hefty .340 batting average and 1.230 OPS. While that will obviously not keep up over the course of the season, and because his defense is so suspect, Villanueva is bound to regress. But for now, lets enjoy the production while it lasts.
David Peralta (ARI): The table setter atop the potent Arizona lineup, Peralta has been proving to be an outstanding leadoff hitter, as evidenced by his .349 lineup. He’s also got a decent amount of pop, so don’t be fooled by his meager total of two home runs this season.
A.J. Pollock (ARI): In what’s been a little unconventional, manager Torey Lovullo has been trying out Pollock in the fourth spot, as opposed to his usual second spot in the lineup. While he’s only hitting a modest .254, he also has four home runs and 14 RBI, something he should be able to acquire more of because of his hard-hitting contact abilities.
Ketel Marte (ARI): Marte has been hitting in the second spot for most of the season so far, and should continue to do so for the foreseeable future. He’s not very special at the plate as a whole, but is a perfect complement at the top of the Diamondback’s roster, along with Peralta.