Let's just assume this ball left the park. With the way Chase Headley has been swinging, it makes sense. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
The Padres all but had the Dodgers sweep in the bag, but they couldn't quite hold on to the game one victory. Regardless, I think most fans are happy with the Friars taking two out of three from the Dodgers. Forgetting the Rockies' series, the Padres have been playing fantastic baseball. And they've been doing it with more than just small ball. Chase Headley has been blasting home runs, Carlos Quentin and Yonder Alonso have been slapping doubles, and the entire team is coming up with timely hitting.
The pitching, which has been utterly decimated by injuries, has been impressive in the second half of the season. The staff has actually lowered its ERA by three points in the second half verse the first half (3.91 pre-ASG, 3.88 post-ASG). Pitchers like Andrew Werner, Casey Kelly, Tom Layne, and others have been pleasant surprises in a season filled with unpleasantry. Even with Huston Street recovering on the DL, the team has found itself in a strong position after eight innings. The opening game against the Dodgers was just the second blown save in the ninth inning for the Padres this year.
Now, Arizona enters San Diego riding a high of their own. While their play-off hopes are all but dashed, they just took two of three from the division-leading San Francisco Giants. Arizona is 9.5 games back of first in the National League West and 6.5 games back in the Wild Card hunt. They are not mathematically eliminated, but they haven't proven they could put together a sustained run of success long enough to make up the deficit they face. San Diego can push them even further back, rip out the hearts of Diamondbacks fans everywhere, and show the National League West they intend to compete in the very near future.
Game One - 7:05 PM PT
Skaggs is a good young pitcher. He has fared better than the Diamondbacks top prospect Trevor Bauer did when he was called up. Skaggs has made three starts and owns a 2.60 ERA. He will be making his first-ever Petco Park start (a theme that will become apparent in just a moment). Skaggs has faced the Marlins, the Reds, and the Dodgers. He is 1-1, but the Dodgers are 1-2 in his starts. Skaggs throws five different pitches, but only uses two of them often - the fourseam fastball and the curveball. Of those two pitches, his curveball is better based on Fangraphs' pitch value. For as good as Skaggs is, it's interesting to point out he was the "player to be named later" in the Dan Haren trade that also netted the DBacks recently-departed Joe Saunders.
Cashner will finally get to start in front of the home crowd. He hasn't started a game at Petco, but that changes in game one of this series. Cashner is one of the more exciting players in the Padres organization for two reasons: He throws stupid hard, and he was the main piece of the Anthony Rizzo trade. Much like every player included in the Adrian Gonzalez trade of 2010 is held to a higher standard, Cashner will never get a fair shake in San Diego. Fortunately, this doesn't seem to bother him or his 100 mph fastball one bit. Cashner was 3-3 with 36 2/3 innings-pitched this season prior to being shutdown due to injury. He suffered a strained right lat in early July. This will be his first start back from the DL. If we're lucky, we'll catch a glimpse of that famous (or soon-to-be famous) camouflage, hunting undershirt.
Game Two - 5:35 PM PT
TBD (which is actually Wade Miley) vs. Casey Kelly
TBD has been dominant this season. He has been in the discussion for the National League Rookie of the Year award. Of course, we are all pulling for our boy Yonder Alonso instead. Oh, TBD is actually Wade Miley. The Diamondbacks haven't officially announce Miley as their game two starter in this series, but there really isn't anyone else to make the start. It's Miley's turn in the rotation. So let's assume it's Miley - or continue assuming since I've already made the assumption for you. Miley is 14-9 with a 2.90 ERA this season. He has struggled against the Padres though. In three starts, Miley has a 5.40 ERA. In his only start against the Padres this year, Miley went 7 1/3 innings gave up six hits, and allowed four runs. But at Petco Park, everyone is better.
Casey Kelly has given us both the good and the bad. Hopefully he settles on good and can show us some of the same stuff we saw in his debut. Kelly is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in two starts this season. He gave up no runs over six innings against the Braves in his debut. Then, in his follow-up performance against the Rockies, he gave up seven runs. Amazingly, Kelly got the no decision in that game as the slug-fest went back and forth. Kelly is an example of higher expectations. He was drafted 30th overall in the 2008 draft by the Boston Red Sox. He is one of two remaining players from the Gonzalez trade (Reymond Fuentes is the other). Much like Cashner, Kelly's success will always be measured against how well Gonzalez (or Rizzo in Cashner's case) does in the future.
Game Three - 1:05 PM PT
Ian Kennedy vs. Andrew Werner
Kennedy is not the same Kennedy as he was in 2011. In 2011, Kennedy finished fourth in NL Cy Young voting. This year, he is 12-11 with a 4.39 ERA. His ERA this season is 1.51 points higher this year. He's giving up more home runs. And thankfully, Kennedy has struggled against the Padres this year. Kennedy has started three games against the Padres this year. He's compiled 18 1/3 innings against San Diego and has a 5.40 ERA. Red Beard may be injured this year if you believe the things I write elsewhere (shameless plug). If that's the case, it explains the huge drop-off in performance this season.
Werner has been one of the most surprising pitchers of the year. He has started three games this season, and he's been incredibly consistent. In each start, he has gone six innings and allowed two runs. He has given up a total of 13 hits in those three starts. Unfortunately, Werner has also been one of the more unlucky Padres pitchers. He is just 1-1 and the Padres are 1-2 in his starts. Given Werner's starts against Kennedy's starts, this seems to be a favorable match-up for San Diego.
Are you getting tired of it yet? I'm calling for the sweep. It's been nice actually having the confidence to believe the Padres can pull off these sweeps. It's been even nicer watching San Diego win most of these games. Just as a quick reminder, the Padres are 41-32. They have won 12 of their last 16 games. So, I repeat, I'm calling sweep. The Padres have some good pitchers going against the DBacks in this series. Their offense is hot. Things are going right for the Friars for a change. Let's just sit back and enjoy.
Keep the faith!!