This is the last series preview I'll be writing in 2012, which means this is the last series for the Padres in 2012. It's kind of sad. But once we close the book on 2012, we can look ahead to great things to come in 2013. Healthy players returning from injury, a team that seems to have found its chemistry, and hopefully Chase Headley with a fresh new contract.
San Diego has to travel to Milwaukee for their final series of the year. It's a strange schedule, but it will surely get stranger next season when every day there will be an inter-league game. The last time I remember San Diego finishing the regular season in Milwaukee, things didn't go so well for the Friars. 2007 anyone? Tony Gwynn Jr. and Trevor Hoffman. One-game play-off. The Padres are not fighting for a play-off spot this time around though, so we can safely tuck the nightmares of 2077 away for another time. Perhaps next season, we can immerse ourselves in the irrationally emotional fun/torture of a pennant chase, but it was not meant to be this year.
As the Padres finish up the season at Miller Park, Chase Headley, our resident home run champion, will have a chance to really put a charge in the ball. Miller Park ranks number one in Park Factor for home runs. This means even the lightest hitting Padres will get a shot at blasting one out of the park. On the flip side, the pitching staff will need to keep the ball down - or just walk Ryan Braun every time he comes to the plate if San Diego is going to have some success in Milwaukee.
Game One - 5:10 PM PT
Clayton Richard vs. Shaun Marcum
Clayton Richard will be going for his 15th win of the season in game one. He's already matched a career-high in wins with 14 and can set a new career high today. Richard has struggled in his last two starts, seeing his ERA inflate from 3.74 to 3.91. He gave up four runs a piece in each of his last two outings. Last time out, against the Dodgers, Richard failed to make it out of the fourth inning. He went 3 2/3 innings, gave up ten hits, and allowed four runs. That game broke a streak of five straight wins when he got a decision. Richard has only pitched 26 innings against the Brewers in his career. He has a career 4.15 ERA against them. He's struggled even more when the games have been at Miller Park. Richard has started three games at Miller Park and owns a 6.91 ERA. He'll look to turn things around today and pick up that magical 15th win - and yes it will be magical!
Marcum has had a solid season for Milwaukee. He has a 6-4 record with a 3.74 ERA in 20 starts. He's been limited by injuries this season, but his ERA is still 10% better than league average. Since coming to Milwaukee in 2011, Marcum has posted back-to-bac sub 4.00 ERAs. He helped the Brewers clinch the National League Central last season, and was part of Milwaukee's late push to make the postseason this year. The Brewers will fall short of the playoffs, but have had a respectable season nonetheless. Marcum has started two games against the Padres this year, and he's dominated them. He has a 2.13 ERA against San Diego in 2012. The 30-year old righty also has a career 3.51 ERA against San Diego.
Game Two - 5:10 PM PT
Casey Kelly vs. Tyler Thornburg
Kelly will get one final shot this season at redeeming himself. He dazzled us all with his debut, but since he's been far from impressive. Kelly has six Major League starts under his belt and a 6.21 ERA. It would be nice for him to get a good start in game two of this series to carry some positive momentum into the offseason. This will be Kelly's third road start and only his second non-NL West opponent that he's faced this season. He faced the Braves in his Major League debut. Because of injury, Kelly has only made a combined 14 starts between the minors and the Majors. He had a 3.35 ERA in eight starts between the Arizona Rookie League, Double-A San Antonio, and Triple-A Tucson.
Thornburg is also in his first Major League season. He debuted on June 19th, and he has fared only slightly better than Kelly. Thornburg was used primarily in relief since his debut, but has made two previous starts. As a starter, Thornburg has a 6.30 ERA this season. He was the Brewers' third round pick in 2010. He showed some good stuff in the minors, posting a 2.77 ERA through all levels. He was used almost exclusively as a starter in the minors. This will be Thornburg's first start against the Padres. Let's hope their speed, power, and the fact that Chase Headley and Logan Forsythe look strikingly similar can confuse the young righty.
Game Three - 5:10 PM PT
Andrew Werner vs. TBA
Werner had a short leash in his last outing against the Giants. He gave up three runs in 4 2/3 innings before being pulled. Although he gave up just three runs, his ERA continued to rise. He is now sitting on a 4.78 ERA. We know he's better than that. Maybe teams have figured him out, but the fact that his first four starts were so good leads me to believe he still has that in him. Fatigue may be setting in. Werner has pitched 164 innings between the minors and the Majors this season. He has never tossed more than 136 1/3 innings previously in his career. If fatigue is the case, we can rest assured that Werner will build up some stamina and hopefully will be more like his first four starts self than his last three starts self.
The Brewers have yet to announce who will throw for them in the season-finale. Maybe it will be Bob Ueker.
It's the last series of the year, and we want our Pads to go out on a winning note. The match-ups are pretty favorable. Richard should get his 15th win - a pretty nice accomplishment no matter how much wins don't matter as a stat. Kelly has a chance to right the ship. And Werner has one final shot at making a name for himself, something that will be important come next spring. When it's all said and done, I see the Padres sweeping the Brewers, improving their record to 78-84, and riding off into the sunset after a respectable season. I think every Padres fan can agree that this team has surprised us all. They played the second half of the year much like we expected them to play all season long. They've had to deal with more injuries than any other team in baseball, and they had to deal with more dysfunction too. But they overcame all that and have already posted a better season than the 2011 team did. A sweep of the Brewers would certainly be a good way to head into the offseason.