Series Preview: Vedder Cup Begins as Mariners Travel to Petco
The San Diego Padres have lost five of their last six games and welcome a struggling Seattle Mariners club at the beginning of the annual Vedder Cup rivalry.
After a somewhat hot, and unexpected, start to the 2019 season, the San Diego Padres have cooled off as of late.
Andy Green‘s club returned home following a successful 12-game road trip in which the Padres gained sole possession of first place in the National League West. The first time since 2010. Arguably the hottest team in baseball at the time, the Padres looked to continue their run against two struggling baseball teams in the Colorado Rockies and Cincinnati Reds.
Unfortunately for the Friar Faithful, the exact opposite happened. The Padres were swept by the Rockies in a short two-game series and also lost three of the four games they played against the Reds. The offensive woes continued, as the team couldn’t string together a reliable offensive performance until the final game against the Reds.
The homestand is not over as the Padres will start their annual Vedder Cup rivalry on Tuesday when the Seattle Mariners travel to Petco Park. Just like the Padres, this Mariners club is exceeding expectations and shocking the baseball world. After tearing down every key piece this offseason, Seattle is off to a 16-9 start and sits alone atop the American League West standings.
Both teams enter the start of this series in a bit of a slump despite their impressive starts to the 2019 season. The Padres have lost six of their last ten games, while the Mariners have played worse, losing seven of their last ten games.
Game 1 (April 23, 7:10 PM PDT): Nick Margevicius (1-2, 3.60 ERA) vs. Erik Swanson (0-1, 3.38 ERA)
The first game of this two-game series features two players that made their major league debuts this season. Making his third start of the season for the Mariners is right-hander Erik Swanson. The 25-year-old has only made one start in his career and was quite impressive as he went six innings and struck out five, while only allowing one earned run. With not much to go on, it will be interesting to see what the San Diego hitters approach will be when stepping into the box against Swanson.
Toeing the rubber for the Padres will be none other than Nick Margevicius. The rookie left-handed pitcher was reasonably stable in his first two major league starts, as he allowed only two earned runs in 11 innings of work. He struggled in his most recent start, however, as the Rockies chased Margevicius after four innings and scored five runs on him. Margevicius does not have overpowering stuff by any means, but his ability to locate pitches and keep hitters off balance has allowed him to have some success into his young major league career. He was hit hard against the Rockies because he left some pitches up in the zone, which is something that he cannot afford to do given his pitching arsenal. This Mariners lineup is no joke and has a ton of power throughout it, so it will be interesting to see how Margevicius navigates his way through it.
Game 2 (April 24th, 12:40 PM PDT): Chris Paddack (0-1, 2.25 ERA) vs Felix Hernandez (1-1, 4.91 ERA)
This Wednesday night matchup between an up-and-coming star and one of the greatest pitchers of his generation will certainly be something to watch.
“King Felix” will make his 14th career start against the Friars in the series finale. While Felix Hernandez is not anywhere near the pitcher he once used to be; he is still a quality veteran arm that knows how to navigate through a major league lineup and expose hitters with their weaknesses. He has significantly regressed, but the 33-year-old still has enough left in the tank to pitch the Mariners to a victory. His career numbers against the Padres are impressive, as King Felix holds a 6-4 record with a 2.88 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 13 career starts against San Diego.
Mr. “Suited and Booted” will make his fourth career start for Andy Green’s club on Wednesday. Every time that Chris Paddack pitches have turned into must-watch television at this point, as the young right-hander has been excellent in each of his three starts. Paddack is currently striking out over a batter per inning (21 strikeouts over 20 innings pitched) while also allowing less than one batter to reach base per inning (0.80 WHIP). His only appearance against the Mariners came in a scrimmage game a few days before opening day, where he was dominant and had success in the two innings he pitched.
Players to Watch:
Fernando Tatis Jr.: The Padres’ rookie phenom has exceeded all expectations thus far. Tatis has been the Padres’ best player by a wide margin, as it seems like he makes a highlight reel play and has a solid hit on a nightly basis. The 20-year-old opens this series against the Mariners with a 10-game hitting streak and is slashing .293/.365/.613 with a team-leading six home runs. One of the few bright lights in a struggling offense will look to keep swinging a hot bat against the Mariners.
Daniel Vogelbach: Vogelback entered the 2019 season as just another player on what was expected to be a struggling big league team, but that narrative has changed in the past few weeks. The 26-year-old is in the midst of an offensive explosion, as Vogelbach is currently slashing .327/.472/.836 with eight home runs and is walking (15) almost as much as he strikes out (17). His slugging % (.836) is the third-highest in all of baseball, and he is showing no signs of slowing down. Neutralizing Vogelbach’s hot bat will be vital for the Padres’ pitching staff in this series.
Diego works at Prep Baseball Report as an Area Scout in Illinois and Missouri. He graduated this spring with a Bachelor Degree in Communications and played four years of college baseball, logging nearly 50 innings of work in a relief role. Diego hopes to work in an MLB front office one day and has been a Padres fan since he was six years old.