Thursday, August 20, 2009

Series Preview - San Diego

Didn’t we just play these guys? You gotta love the scheduler. Cardinals don’t play San Diego for over 100 games, then play them seven times in 10 days.

Cardinals miss Mat Latos, but see Kevin Correia and Carillo in the series. Those previews are up front. With minor edits, the rest of the preview is recycled from last weekend.

Current snapshot

St Louis: 69-53, 1st NL Central, 6 games ahead of Chicago. St Louis is rolling, having won 10 of 12.

San Diego: 51-70, last in NL West, 20 games behind Los Angeles. San Diego rebounded from getting swept in St Louis to take 2 of 3 from the Cubs.

Pitching Matchups

20 August: Pineiro vs Tim Stauffer (1-5, 3.50).
This is a rematch of last Saturday’s game. Stauffer kept the Padres in it, although he got the loss; if not for Molina picking off Venable to end the seventh, the result might have been different. Piniero labored through the first two innings, then pitched great for 4 2/3 before leaving with a 3 run lead in the seventh.

21 August: Lohse vs Clayton Richard (6-3, 4.66). Rematch of Sunday’s rain elongated game. Neither pitcher performed particularly well; Richard didn’t survive the fourth, Lohse the fifth. Richard will pitch better at PETCO, a pitcher’s park. Hopefully Lohse will rise to the challenge.

22 August: Carpenter vs Kevin Correia (8-9, 4.32). Saturday night’s game will be the marquee matchup of the series. Carpenter has been dominant, winning his last 8 decisions (it would have been 9 in a row had the bullpen not blown his game in Houston), and has to be considered in any NL Cy Young discussion. After not looking sharp the first 2 innings, Carp settled down and worked 8 in his victory Monday against the Dodgers.

Correia throws a fastball/slider 85% of the time. Correia beat the Brewers last week, and got a no decision on Monday after throwing six shutout innings at the Cubs. Don’t let his high ERA fool you. Since getting lit up by the Phillies on 23 July, the Padres are 4-1 in his starts and he sports a 2.37 ERA. He signed for $750K and has pitched like a $7.4M guy (according to

23 August: John Smoltz (2-5, 8.32) vs Cesar Carrillo (1-1, 11.88). The Media is speculating Smoltz will start this game. Since LaRussa/Duncan didn’t exactly give Boggs a ringing endorsement following last night’s game, let’s go with it. Everyone reading this is acquainted with Smoltz’s struggles this season. Here’s some data to make you happy:

Smoltz is 16-8 with a 2.55 ERA career against the Padres.
Smoltz is 2-0 with a 0.37 ERA in 5 career games at PETCO.
Smoltz has won his last 4 starts against the Padres, gone at least 7 in all of them, and given up 6 ER in his last 30 IP against San Diego.
Adrian Gonzalez is 2-12 (with a HR) against Smoltz in his career.

Note that Smoltz hasn’t faced the Padres since 2007, and hasn’t pitched at PETCO since 2006.

Carrillo got absolutely hammered by the Brewers last week, giving up 9 ER in 2 1/3 and one of the longest HR Prince Fielder has ever hit. He was better against the Cubs, working 6 and giving up 3 ER. His two starts indicate he walks a lot of people (6 in 8 1/3). Fastball/curveball/change comprise 98% of his pitches, and he has a heavy fastball (93.7 MPH average).

Key Padres

Adrian Gonzalez.
Easily the best hitter in baseball getting no notoriety at all nationally. This is a function of the lousy team he currently plays for, and their location. People don’t come to San Diego to watch the Padres, even when they don’t suck. Gonzo reduced Miller Park to a smoking pile of rubble while going 10-16 with 3 doubles, a home run, and 6 RBI in the recently completed series. Suffice it to day the Brewers pitchers are happy to see him leave. He is now the first Padre ever to hit 30 home runs in 3 straight seasons. He can hurt you at any time. Although my fantasy team will cry foul, there is no reason to pitch to him with runners in scoring position in this series.

Heath Bell. Closer. Leads the NL in saves with 29. 51 K in 46 and a third. K/BB ratio of 3.19. He’s pretty good.

David Eckstein. You remember him? Clubhouse leader for the Padres. Brings all those lovely intangibles to the table, and is still (a) fairly clutch with the bat, and (b) is a mean bunter.

Mike Adams. Set-up guy. Filthy. 30 K in 25 IP, K/BB ratio of 6.00. And you’ve never heard of him.

Anthony Gwynn, Jr. Full name used so as to not confuse him with his rather well-known dad. Gwynn was acquired in a mid-season trade with the Brewers, and has been average at the plate (105 OPS+) and good in CF (5.7 UZR). He’s been worth 1.8 WAR, and he hits leadoff for this team.

Everth Cabrera/William Venable/Kyle Blanks. Much like the Pirates, the Padres have mixed and matched a lot this season. These 3 guys represent the youth movement on the team, and they have played well. Cabrera has great speed and the best arm on the club, at least among position players. He plays shortstop. Venable has been hot in August (hitting .351), and has homered in 6 of his last 12 games. He currently mans RF. Kyle Blanks is a work in progress, but he has ridiculous power. I mean Willy Mo Pena/Dave Kingman sized power. He typically plays left.

Chase Headley. Chase has been something of a disappointment to the Padres. He was a can’t miss prospect the fans begged Kevin Towers to call up early in 2008, but hasn’t hit like everyone thought. However, over his last 14 games the light seems to have gone on. He’s hitting a tick under .400 (.396), and is reaching base in almost half his plate appearances. He’s currently hitting 4th in the Padre order. He has power, but hasn’t displayed it consistently at the major league level. During this current streak, he has 5 doubles, a triple, and no homers.

Prognosis/Prediction. St Louis should win the games Pineiro and Carpenter start. Richard is a future ace, and will pitch better this time around; perhaps Lohse will too. Carrillo threw well in his only start in San Diego (the Cubs game), and we really have no idea what to expect from Smoltz. I’m hoping for someone better than he has been this year, but not close to as good as his 2007 self. I’ll be happy with a split here.

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