The last place N.L. West San Diego Padres will start a series today against the second place N.L. Central Pittsburgh Pirates at Petco Park. The Friars are coming off a series in which they lost two out of three games from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Sadly for the Pads this last series against the D-backs has been their second best series performance of the season. There was quite a few positives to take from the games this past weekend and hopefully the Padres can continue to demonstrate those positives on the field and convert them into more wins. I am just going to say it right now, this will not be an easy series. No series is easy but this should be a tough task for the Friars here at home. I’m not saying there not capable of winning the series but let’s be honest here if we struggled against the Phillies and D-backs, chances are the Buccos should present an even greater challenge for the Pads.
They say pitching wins ball games but that has not been the case for the San Diego Padres this season especially not as of late. You can simply look at that first game against the Diamondbacks or the whole series against the Phillies. The pitchers did their job, it’s just that the offense has been really not been producing as a team. That first game against the D-backs was a mixture of the offense and the defense letting the pitchers down. Hopefully this is not become a trend for the Padres because it is just not fair to the coaches Darren Balsley and Doug Botchler.
Gerit Cole vs James Shields 6:10 pm
Immediately the Cole vs Shields matchup just catches your eye. Gerrit Cole has not had a great start to 2016 season going 0-2 with a 4.22 ERA. However just look at Zack Greinke who had a way worse start to the 2016 campaign than Cole has had and just look at how he looked this past Friday at Petco Park. Whenever an elite pitched like Cole is on the mound here in San Diego always be on the look out for a solid performance.
Going for the Friars in game three against Cole will be James Shields who has looked decent to start the 2016 season, but is still unreliable due to his struggles giving up long balls. It will be interesting to see how Shields does against a very strong Pittsburgh Pirates lineup with the likes of Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco and more. Still this pitching matchup isn’t the matchup that catches my eye the most.
An interesting matchup is the second game of the series between Jeff Locke and Drew Pomeranz. Locke has looked decent this season, the former all-star is yet to win a game but has a very nice ERA of 2.53 in his two games of work. For the Padres we have Drew Pomeranz going who has looked very hopeful to kick off this 2016 campaign. After a phenomenal first start at Coors Field in which he got 16 runs from his batters, Pomeranz shined again in Philly only allowing three runs and striking out eight in six innings. The offense failed to deliver and no one talked about how great Pomeranz was in that game. Instead all focus was on how Vincent Velasquez absolutely murdered the Padres.
Pomeranz does not have a good history at Petco Park as he has not won a single game there and has an abysmal ERA of 13.06 in five games. This is the present though and judging by his recent performances at ballparks which traditionally have been kinder to hitters, the lefty should be looking at a very strong start this Wednesday night. We have to remember this is Petco Park so whether it’s Clayton Kershaw or 50 cent on the mound, the pitching matchups should always be the main focus going into any game here.
Players to watch
As a Southwestern college student it would have been an injustice not to include Southwestern College alumni John Jaso in the players to watch. Now apart from the fact that Mr. Jaso is a Chula Vista native and went to Southwestern College there are other reasons to keep your eye on the South Bay native. Jaso is off to an absolutely amazing start with an average of .354 and an OBP of .418. Jaso has always been known as a hitter who is great on getting on base and has been a the most unorthodox leadoff hitter in the MLB for years now. A true sabermatrics God if you will. I’m certainly looking forward to watching Jaso play in these next few games and as a Southwestern College student I will definitely be cheering him on.
Jay has been in quite a slump recently and should definitely look to redeem himself a bit this series after grounding out into a game ending bases loaded double play last Friday. Jay has also had quite a nice history against the Pirates in a very decent spectrum as Jay was a lifetime Cardinal before joining the Padres in 2016. In 88 games Jon has a .311 BA with a .390 OBP against the Buccos. He should have a decent series this week.
The Pirates Outfield
Now I could have listed a couple, or one, or all individually but let’s just knock it out in one go. All three of the Pirates starting outfielders are a force to be reckoned with, we of course have Andrew McCutchen, one of the faces of the game of baseball. KenGriffey Jr’s favorite player is always someone you want to watch out for whether he’s hot or just doing average. Whether he’s playing at Coors Field or Petco Park it simply does not matter, McCutchen is always a player to keep your eye on. Then from McCutchen we go to two of the most underrated players in the game of baseball; Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte. Both of these fantastic players just simply do not get the recognition they deserve due to the fact that McCutchen plays on the same team as them. Both Marte and “El Coffee” are off to tremendous starts to the 2016 season as both have batting averages of over .300 and OBPs of over .400. The Padres will have to be extremely careful with how they handle this deadly trio of outfielders.
After going through a slump in Philly and now regaining his form in this last series against the Diamondbacks it will be interesting to see if Will can keep a consistent bat and have a nice series against the Buccos. Myers has had a much nicer average at home than on the road with a .360 BA at home and only a .222 BA on the road. Myers has yet to Homer or even get an RBI at home, so let’s hope Myers can go yard and keep the success he has had at home this season.
Alexei Ramirez Vs Francisco Liriano
A good matchup to keep your eye on today. With the years Alexei had with the White Sox and all the years Frankie pitched for the Twins these two have faced each other a total of 31 times. Now Alexei doesn’t have five home runs off him or anything like that but he does have both a BA and OBP of over .400 against the lefty.
Matt Joyce vs James Shields
Now this matchup might not happen but it is worth mentioning if the Pirates need to rest one of their outfielders on the last day of the series. Joyce should definitely be a strong candidate to be in the lineup for Clint Hurdle in game three of the series. In eight at bats Joyce only has two hits against Shields and a walk but one of those two hits is a home run. The way Shields has struggled to keep the ball in the park this could definitely turn out to be a significant stat.
Can the Padres Bullpen Continue its success?
The Padres Bullpen looked really sharp in the series against the Diamondbacks with unlikely candidates stepping up like Brad Hand, Luis Perdomo, and Ryan Buchter. Let’s hope the Padres Bullpen can continue to shine this series as they can turn out to be an important factor in this 2016 campaign. Pitchers doing their jobs at Petco Park isn’t the most complicated thing in the world, so if the Padres are to lose some games against the Buccos, I do not expect the bullpen to be a factor to those losses.
Can the Padres win their first home series of the year?
It’s gonna be tough, I guess a more suitable question would be if they can at least get another win at home this year in this series. Which I think the Padres will certainly do. I personally don’t think the Padres can overcome the Pirates in this series, but I also don’t think the Padres will get swept. They should be able to at least snag one win out of this series and put up a good fight in the other games as well. As I said before this not a series which the Padres are expected to win, but hey it can be an interesting few days here at Petco Park.