The San Diego Padres welcome the St. Louis Cardinals into town as the team wraps up its nine game series this weekend at beautiful Petco Park. The Red Birds come into town with a record of 8-7 on the season so far. They currently trail the first place Cubs by three and a half games but it is extremely early.
Manager Mike Matheny brings his troops into town with the goal of taking the series from the Padres. That is always the goal of any Cardinals team. Recent injuries have crippled the Padres as Tyson Ross, Robbie Erlin, Cory Spangenberg and Yangervis Solarte have all been forced to the D.L.
The Padres are coming off a promising series against the Pirates in which the team took two out of three from the Bucs. The team was going for the sweep on Thursday, but were unable to get anything going offensively off the Pirates ace Gerrit Cole. Still taking the series was a positive sign for a Padres team seeking some consistency. They will have their work cut out for them against this team from St. Louis.
The Cardinals have typically beat up on the Padres in the past. From the playoffs to the regular season, the Cardinals have always just handled the Padres. Something needs to change in that regard if the Padres plan on taking their franchise to the next level. They must have good showings against franchises that typically dominant them. This weekend’s series will be a great test for rookie manager Andy Green.
Saturday- Michael Wacha vs TBD 5:00 pm
Players to Watch
In his return to Petco Park, Gyorko will surely be motivated. He should be in the lineup for at least one of the games in San Diego and you can be sure he had this date circled in his calendar. He is off to a slow start in St. Louis but has continued to play shortstop for them. The Cards lost their starting shortstop Jhonny Peralta in spring training and Gyorko was given the first shot to play the position. In fact Gyorko was the starting shortstop for the Cardinals on opening day. He has lost the job to Aledmys Diaz at the moment but he still factors in the Cardinals long-term plans somewhere.
The player the Padres obtained in return for Gyorko was Jon Jay. He has many friends on the Cardinals team after spending his whole career with the franchise, and should also be motivated to have a great series. The Cardinals fans really adored Jay and seeing him in a Padres uniform will be strange to most Cardinals fans. This will be his first chance to bat against Wainwright and Wacha and it should be interesting to witness. Expect Jay to give 100 percent this weekend series.
This 25-year-old Cuban has stepped in and took over the shortstop job. The rookie is currently hitting .385 in 13 games and has two home runs and eight RBI. He spent last season split between Double-A and Triple-A in which he hit .278 with 13 home runs and 52 RBI in 116 games. The right handed hitter has started his major league career with a bang. He makes decent contact and has the ability to drive the ball. The Padres staff must be careful with this rookie and not let him hurt the team.
What a run Upton is on right now. Not only is he driving the ball to all fields and recognizing off speed pitches, but he is also playing gold glove caliber defense in left field for the Padres. He has made dramatic play after dramatic play in the first few weeks of the season and his play has assured that Jabari Blash stays on the bench. Upton has the ability to be a special player and the Padres hope that the speedy outfielder has finally found the consistency that has always plagued him.
Even though it is a real small sample size, Norris did go 2-3 off Wainwright in his only appearance against the right handed pitcher. Expect Norris to be in the lineup after a day off on Thursday and expect the catcher to have some decent hacks against Wainwright. He seems to pick up the ball well off the curve ball specialist.
Matt Kemp vs all three Cardinals starters
Kemp is a grand total of 6-40 (.150) against all three starting Cardinals pitchers. If the Padres plan to take the series, they are gonna need some timely hits from their right fielder. He has been swinging a hot bat recently and he could have a decent series if he can make some adjustments. Look for Kemp to battle up there and hopefully get his share of base knocks.
Yadier Molina has hit Andrew Cashner pretty well over his career. The Catcher is 4-9 off of Cashner and will surely be in the middle of the Cardinals lineup on Friday night. His defense is always something to keep an eye on as Molina is widely regarded as one of the best defensive catchers in the league. After an injury marred 2015 season, Molina looks to get back on track and help lead the Cardinals to the playoffs.
Can Padres find a decent starter to take Erlin/Ross rotation spot?
The loss of Robbie Erlin to an elbow injury has forced the Padres to find a suitable replacement for him. Carlos Villanueva, Brad Hand and Jeremy Guthrie remain options for the Padres. Somebody is going to have to start that Saturday night game. After facing Wainwright on Friday, the game on Saturday could be huge for the Padres.Young Cesar Vargas has an outside chance to be the starter on Saturday night. He has a 1.42 ERA in two starts in San Antonio with 14 K’s in 12 innings pitched.
Can Melvin Upton continue to be an offensive force in the lineup?
Upton has started off the year swinging a very productive bat. He has made some adjustments to his swing and is driving the ball the other way with a lot of effectiveness. His defense has also been stellar in left field and he looks poised to have a great year for the Padres. Can Upton continue his offensive onslaught? The Padres will need that from him if they want to take a game or two in this series.
How will Jedd Gyorko perform as he returns to Petco Park?
This has to be a day that Jedd Gyorko had circled on the calendar. He returns to Petco Park and will surely be motivated to have a great series. He seems to have lost the starting shortstop job for now, but expect manager Mike Matheny to find a place to insert the infielder. In true Padres fashion, it would not be a surprise to see Gyorko have a great series against his old club.