Coors Field, Denver, Colorado
Monday 4/9 – Wednesday 4/11
The San Diego Padres were not given much of a break in regard to scheduling for the 2018 season. After playing a four-game set against Colorado last week, followed by a three-game set against the defending champs this weekend in Houston, the Padres are headed to Denver to face the Rockies once again on their turf. Here is how these two teams will line up for this series:
Clayton Richard will toe the rubber in game one in the Mile High City. Known for inducing ground balls, Richard will have to do just that in a ballpark that seems to lack gravity at times. The last time he faced Colorado, he gave up five runs early and then settled in before exiting after five innings. Richards’ last two starts in Colorado have not been ideal. The last time he and Gray faced one another in Colorado, Richard gave up 10 ER in a 18-4 shellacking. Given the lack of run support Richard is used to getting, he is going to have to be on his A-game if he wants to keep the Padres in game one.
Countering Clayton RIchard will be Rockies ace, Jon Gray. He shut down the Padres last week with seven innings of work, no runs allowed, accompanied by 7 strikeouts. Finishing last year with a 3.67 ERA and 10 wins pitching in one of the most advantageous ballparks for hitters, the Rockies appear to have found a top-of-the-line starter as he enters his third full season in the league. The most striking aspect of Gray’s game this season has been his ability to limit extra base hits. He has given up only two in his first two starts, both doubles. The Padres will have to find some real estate in Coors Field to flip the script.
In game two of the series, it will be youngster Joey Lucchesi taking the mound for the Padres. Since taking over in the rotation for the injured Dinelson Lamet, Lucchesi has been a lot of fun to watch. He does not have the flashy stuff like a top-of-the-rotation arm usually does, but he is effective in the use of his repertoire. In both games this season he has had control issues, but has settled down shortly after in each of those two starts, most notably in his last start against the Rockies. He will have the benefit of facing a similar, if not the same, lineup of Rockies as he did last week, but will get a feel of what it is like to pitch in Coors Field. As long as he locates his pitches down in the zone, Lucchesi should find some success, as he did last week.
Opposing Lucchesi will be left-hander Tyler Anderson. Anderson showed promise back in 2016 when he went 5-6 with a 3.54 ERA, but has yet to find the same consistency. However, last week he shutdown the Padres’ lineup in six innings of work, pounding the zone with a strike rate of 74%. Therefore, the Padres are going to get pitches to hit and they will need to jump on him early if they want to exit game two with a win.
In the final game of the series, the Padres’ own enigma in Luis Perdomo will be toeing the slab. It is tough to draw conclusions from only two starts (as we did for the previous starters in games one and two), but we are still trying to draw conclusions of the potential of Perdomo based on the last year of his tenure. However, in his last start against the Astros, Perdomo went five strong innings, only allowing a run to a very good lineup. Again, Perdomo will be fighting for his rotation job so it will be interesting to see how he responds.
German Marquez will be the Rockies’ starter in the final game of this series. Similar to Perdomo, Marquez has had two starts that Jekyll and Hyde one another. His last start was certainly one to forget in which he gave up seven earned runs in 4 ⅔ innings pitched to a rebuilding Braves team. Marquez actually made his major league debut against the Padres back in 2016 in a relief capacity. Unfortunately, no players that faced him that day will be in the lineup for game three of the series.
This will be a fun final game of the series as two youngsters with something to prove will be facing off in a true hitter’s park. This is a game I would urge folks to tune in to.
Hitters to Watch
Manuel Margot (SD): Similar to the preview for the Astros series, Margot is a player to keep an eye on in the Rockies series. He has gotten off to an incredibly slow start and has already found himself in the nine-hole of the lineup as Andy Green tries to get him back on track. The lineup has bounced around early so it is unclear where he will be placed during this series, but there is no better place to get your confidence back than Coors Field.
Freddy Galvis (SD): Freddy Galvis has proven early on that he can swing the bat in addition to playing stellar defense at short. He is making it really easy for Padres fans to get over the hump of losing Enyel De Los Santos and has been an absolute pleasure to watch thus far. Expect him to continue his tear in Colorado as he will likely find some real estate to drop some base hits into.
Charlie Blackmon (COL): Charlie Blackmon is one of the most underrated players in all of baseball. He is a career .305 hitter, is an on-base machine, and always seems to tear up Padres pitching. The table setter of the Rockies lineup has to be contained if the Padres want to find any success in this series. When Blackmon gets on, the entire Rockies lineup seems to be locked in.
Nolan Arenado (COL): A more obvious threat posed by the Rockies’ lineup is Nolan Arenado. Similar to Blackmon, he is off to a solid start in 2018. In the series last week, Padres pitching held him to only two hits in 12 at-bats. It will be critical for the Padres to minimize the damage Arenado can do by attacking the top of the lineup efficiently. If Padres pitching can attack the top of the Rockies’ lineup with success, Arenado will have limited opportunities to blow games open (which can happen really quickly in Colorado).
The obvious bold prediction would be a Padres sweep of the Rockies. Possible, but unlikely. Instead, one of the Padres over the three game series is going to hit for the cycle. In August of 2015, Matt Kemp hit for the first cycle in San Diego Padres history at Coors Field. On April 10th of 2017, Wil Myers hit for the second cycle in Padres history at Coors Field. If there is a guy to do it in Colorado this season, it would have to be Eric Hosmer. He is a doubles machine and can attack the gaps. He does not have lightning speed, but neither did Matt Kemp.
Second, Perdomo is going to flirt with a no-no. This is not even bold. It is downright crazy. However, Perdomo is much better than his numbers may indicate and his last outing against the Astros was tremendously encouraging. He will go five or six innings of no-hit ball before giving way to Blackmon (most likely). If he executes his gameplan like he did against Houston, Perdomo is in for another good outing. Probably not a no-hitter, but wishful thinking is the only thing that will get us through this season.