Coors Field, Denver, CO
The San Diego Padres are in Colorado, about to take part in a very interesting series with the Rockies.
To put it simply, the Padres have been struggling. After getting swept by the Dodgers, they went into Chase Field in Arizona and lost two out of three. Mixed in was a bright spot from Tyson Ross, who gave fans everywhere an enthralling performance that saw him carry a no-hitter into the eighth inning.
Now the Padres will head back to Coors Field, where they are to continue a volatile series with the Colorado Rockies.
The series gets underway with the Padres sending their least consistent arm to the mound in Bryan Mitchell. Besides a quality start against the Dodgers last week, Mitchell has failed to make it through six innings in each of his previous three. He also sports an atrocious 7:17 K:BB rate that simply won’t be able to pass much longer in the majors. Pair that with a trip to Coors Field and a dangerous Rockies offense, and Mitchell could be in for a short outing.
The Rockies will counter with Chad Bettis, who has been a breath of fresh air for a rotation that hasn’t lived up to its preseason expectations. While the Rockies’ pitching staff is very young, Bettis is the veteran anchor who has been making the rotation tick, by sporting an impressive 1.44 ERA while making half of his starts at altitude. Look for Bettis to continue his solid run, at least until San Diego can prove that they can cut down on strikeouts and put the ball in play on a consistent basis.
Game 2 (5:40 PT) TBD vs. Kyle Freeland (0-3, 5.85 ERA)
Even though the starter has yet to be announced, it will in all likelihood be Eric Lauer, making his much-anticipated Major League debut. After the demotion of Luis Perdomo to Triple-A and Lauer skipping his start this past weekend, it seems as though all signs are pointing to a call-up for the young lefty. Lauer has definitely been pitching well enough to earn himself a promotion, going 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA and 19 strikeouts over 18 IP at Triple-A El Paso this year. If he is to debut, Lauer will join fellow 2016 draftee Joey Lucchesi in a rotation that is quickly starting to become noticeable.
The Rockies will send Kyle Freeland to the mound, who will be looking to earn his first win of the season on Tuesday. In his previous start against the Padres this season, Freeland took the loss after going 5.1 innings and allowing four runs, which was also the night that Christian Villanueva hit three home runs, and the “plunking war” began. Freeland is going to have his work cut out for him this time around as well, trying to navigate a right-handed-heavy lineup that will now feature Villanueva as well as Wil Myers and Manuel Margot.
Game 3 (12:10 PT) TBD vs. John Gray (1-4, 7.09 ERA)
In the series finale, the Padres have also yet to list a starter. If the rotation order continues as it has been, it should be Tyson Ross taking the ball, making his first start after nearly completing the first no-hitter in Padres history. Ross has been proving to be undergoing a career renaissance, seemingly looking better and better with each start. After just four starts, Ross is 2-1 with a 2.81 ERA and a WHIP that has been hovering around one. In a season where the Padres took a handful of risks on their rotation, Ross is proving to be a steady presence that the Padres (and the bullpen) can rely on each time out.
The Padres will get their third look at John Gray in this young season, as the right-hander will take the mound looking to rebound to a rough start to the season. Save for his dominant outing at Petco Park earlier this month, Gray has been a letdown from what the Rockies expected him to be coming into the season. In a year where the Rockies are making a serious push for the playoffs, Gray is going to have to rise to the occasion and become the ace that the Rockies so desperately need.
Hitters to Watch:
Manuel Margot (SD): Since returning from the DL on Saturday, Margot has gone 0-8 and seemingly still looks lost at the plate. While he’s still young and the season has only just begun, rumblings of a sophomore slump have many people questioning whether or not Margot can put it all together and realize his potential as an everyday center fielder.
Carlos Asuaje (SD): With each and every game he goes 0-4, the leash on him gets ever so tighter. After a blistering spring, Asuaje has started the season by hitting just .215 over 79 at-bats, leading to calls for Luis Urias‘ promotion. While it’s not that time just yet, Asuaje’s going to have to seriously step up his play before his inevitable demotion from the everyday job at second base.
Christian Villanueva (SD): Every single series, Villanueva seems to do something that makes people believe he can be the real deal. After another solid series that saw him collect his seventh home run of the season, Villanueva continues to impress with his .355/.444/.774 slash line.
Nolan Arenado (COL): It’s inevitable that all eyes are going to be on Arenado the first time he steps into the box. It’ll be interesting to see how the situation develops this time around, and whether or not there will be any bad blood from the last time these two clubs played.
Charlie Blackmon (COL): Ever since signing his big extension, Blackmon has been on an absolute tear. He continues to be the dangerous leadoff hitter who can hit for average as well as pop (.304, 8 HR). Arguably the best pure hitter in the lineup (save for Arenado), Blackmon will be his usual threatening self when the series kicks off on Monday.
Ian Desmond (COL): Placed in the middle of their lineup, Desmond has failed to deliver so far this season, hitting just .171 over 76 at-bats. He is still a viable power source, but his continued slump is starting to raise questions of whether or not his best days are behind him.