Location: Petco Park, San Diego CA
The San Diego Padres’ season has started in unspectacular fashion,with the Friars getting swept by the Milwaukee Brewers to start the 2018 campaign.
While there were some positives, the overall results were abysmal and show clear room for improvement. All three games proved to be winnable at certain points, but late game hitting in game one, a Brad Hand blown save in game two, and Luis Perdomo‘s ultimate ineffectiveness led to three defeats.
The team gets back at it Monday night against the ever dangerous Colorado Rockies.
The first game of the series takes a look at the number four starters of both clubs, with Bettis taking the ball for the Rockies. Just last year, Bettis was diagnosed with testicular cancer and was forced to miss a big chunk of the season before coming back and making nine starts at the end of the year, to the joy of everyone involved with baseball. While Bettis didn’t perform up to his full potential, part of that can be attributed to knocking off the rust of missing 2/3 of the season.
If the Padres are to get to Bettis, they’ll have to do it early, due to his 6.66 ERA and .320/.385/.598 slash line against hitters in the first three innings of games last season. Look for the Friars to be aggressive early in counts and try to force the issue with Bettis, who typically settles into games nicely if he can avoid the big inning early on.
In the other dugout, Bryan Mitchell will make his anticipated Padres’ debut, and just his second start since 2016. The Padres clearly saw something in him when they sprung at the opportunity to acquire him and Chase Headley for outfielder Jabari Blash. Mitchell’s been an interesting case, making just nine starts in his career to go with 39 relief appearances in a Yankees pitching staff that’s been quite crowded the past few years. The Padres believe that a change of scenery and an ample opportunity to grow could help Mitchell blossom into an average major league starter, who can eat innings at the very least. He’ll get his first chance to make an impression in the series opener on Monday.
Game 2 (7:10 PT): Kyle Freeland (2017: 11-11, 4.10 ERA) vs. TBD
In the second game of the series, Kyle Freeland will make his first start of the season for Colorado, while the Padres have yet to name a starting pitcher.
Freeland was one of the Rockies’ most quality arms last year, getting to double-digit wins and 3.3 WAR in his rookie season. There’s a ton of room for growth in the young lefty, who possesses immaculate control, described by some scouts as “plus-plus”. Freeland, who was once a top-10 prospect in the Rockies system, could be primed for a breakout year in which he reaches closer to his ceiling of a 2nd or 3rd starter. Again, the Padres will have to attack early in counts if they want to have sustained success against Freeland, who pounds the strike zone early and often.
Speaking of the Padres, though they’ve yet to announce an official starter for Game 2, it will in all likelihood be Clayton Richard taking the mound again. As Andy Green explained before the season started, the Padres were more than likely going to implement a four man rotation the first time through, with Tyson Ross remaining in Arizona for a tune-up start, because of the extra off day. Therefore, Richard will almost certainly be making his second start of the season, following his seven inning, one run gem thrown on Opening Day. If Richard can keep his sinker down in the zone and away from the Rockies’ formidable lineup, he should enjoy much of the same success he did just a few days ago.
Game 3 (7:10 PT): Jon Gray (0-0, 6.75 ERA) vs. Clayton Richard (0-0, 1.29 ERA)
In the penultimate game of the series, Jon Gray looks to rebound from his rough Opening Day start. As for the Padres, though Clayton Richard is listed as the starter it will almost certainly be Joey Lucchesi making his second career start, since Richard’s start will be moved up a day.
The Rockies will turn their rotation over for Game 3 and go to their ace, who is looking to come back from an unimpressive start against the Diamondbacks his last time out. Gray has all the potential to become Colorado’s ace and carry their pitching staff, which was evidenced by his 10-4 record and 3.67 ERA, while calling Coors Field his home ballpark. In his second start of the year, Gray can look forward to facing a Padres team who has yet to figure him out over the course of his career. In 2017 alone, Gray held the Padres to a .226 BAA while striking out 22 batters in 17 innings (2.65 ERA). It will be a challenge for the Padres nonetheless, who have yet to find a spark in their mostly dormant lineup.
The Padres will most likely go back to Lucchesi, the club’s #9 prospect who made a decent MLB debut last Friday (4.2IP, 7H, 3ER, 0BB, K) and will look to build in his next outing. Lucchesi’s funky delivery spelled trouble for teams throughout his tenure in Spring Training, where he posted a 0.00 ERA until his last outing in the Cactus League. Now, the Padres seem content with letting him figure himself out in the MLB, where he can hopefully turn into a solid middle of the rotation arm. While Lucchesi didn’t have close to his best stuff in his debut, he still gave the Padres a solid outing, something that should have them excited for the future.
Game 4 (12:40 PT): Tyler Anderson (0-0, 27.00 ERA) vs. Joey Lucchesi (0-0, 5.79 ERA)
In the series finale, the Rockies will go to another starter who was roughed up in his first outing in Anderson, while the Padres will possibly turn towards Luis Perdomo, who looked very shaky in his 2018 debut.
Tyler Anderson gets the ball in the final game of the series, where he too will be looking to bounce back from an awful first start of the season. Anderson has been around the Rockies for three years now, though he has yet to pitch more than 115 innings in a season. He has been really average for the Rockies in his tenure, and now entering his age-28 season, we may be seeing about as much as we’re going to get from Anderson. He has potential to become one of Colorado’s best starters, but will have to stay healthy and live down in the zone, a place that he has excelled throughout his career.
Though Lucchesi is the listed starter, Luis Perdomo will most likely get the start, because of the absence of the 5th starter for the time being. If the starter is indeed Perdomo, he will need to make some necessary adjustments after his clunker of an outing against Milwaukee. Perdomo has been something of a mystery this year, for he has shown at time that he can be a really dominant starter, which was evidenced in his seven strikeouts in an otherwise “meh” start. Nevertheless, his leash is most definitely shrinking, and if he can’t figure it out sooner or later, he will be demoted to El Paso, where he’ll have to work out his struggles against minor league hitters.
Hitters to Watch:
Charlie Blackmon (COL): Blackmon’s always a guy to keep your eye on, especially if you’re an opposing pitcher. Already this year, Blackon has three home runs and five RBI as the catalyst atop the Colorado lineup. Oh, and he’s a career .299/.363/.537 hitter against the Padres in his career.
Chris Iannetta (COL): Possibly Colorado’s hottest hitter thus far, Iannetta went 5-7 in the Opening Series, as well as driving in a couple of runs. Though he’s mostly an afterthought in the Rockies’ vaunted lineup, he could be a sneaky threat, especially since he hits lefties well.
Carlos Gonzalez (COL): Gonzalez was an interesting case in free agency, and after looking for a multiyear deal worth big money, he ended up settling back with the Rockies on a one year contract. Now, he’ll likely have to prove he’s still got it with Raimel Tapia and David Dahl waiting in the wings of an already crowded outfield.
Freddy Galvis (SD): Nobody would have believed Galvis beating Eric Hosmer to his first home run as a Padre, but he did. After finishing the Milwaukee series with a hit in every game, including a clutch ninth inning single, Galvis has a sneaky shot at having another good series against the Rockies.
Christian Villanueva (SD): Even though he was used sparingly in their first series, Villanueva will still be featured as the go-to third base option against left-handed starters. In this series he’ll get to face a pair of them, increasing his chances of becoming a solid part of this Padres roster.
Hunter Renfroe (SD): Just like Villanueva, Renfroe is salivating at the chance to start in a pair of games this week against some hittable lefties. If he can (maybe?) stay disciplined and see a couple more pitches per AB, he can become an absolute force against lefties, and form one of the most dominant platoons in the MLB.