I'd like to start by tooting my own horn - this is a phrase so antiquated, no one really knows what it means. Drawing attention to ones self maybe? Perhaps a more modern phrase is in order. I'd like to start by flashing my own bling. I'd like to start by accepting my own award for awesomeness. I'd like to start by admiring my massive home run, spinning, then jogging as slowly as possible around the bases. Point made. But seriously, I called for the pessimistic two out of three games against the Pirates or optimistic sweep AND for Cameron Maybin to raise his OBP over .300. Got 'em both right.
The Padres took all three games against the Pirates and have raised their career record against the Bucs to 6,000,000-1. Or something like that. Maybin came into the series against Pittsburgh with an absurdly low triple-slash. He wasn't even getting on base 30% of the time. However, after ripping through the Pirates pitchers to the tune of 7 for 12 hitting coupled with one walk, Maybin saw his OBP raise to .303. Don't get me wrong, that's still bad. But I'll take that over .295 or something similar. In addition, Maybin is hitting .458 in the last seven days.
Now, San Diego heads to the desert to take on the Diamondbacks. Arizona is still battling for a play-off spot. They are barely hanging on in the National League West, and the Padres have a good shot at knocking them dangerously close to the wonderful world of lonely winters. A sweep would drop the DBacks to 64-64 - still not quite out of contention, but in much worse shape.
Game One - 6:40 PM PT
Eric Stults vs. Patrick Corbin
Stults has been THE guy. He got roughed up a bit against the Giants, but he's been one of the most consistent pitchers on the staff. With yet another injury on the books (Jason Marquis), the Padres will take consistency over just about anything. Heck, they might take consistently bad if they had too as long as there was some sort of consistency. Stults gave up five runs in six innings. His ERA jumped from 2.45 to 3.02, but it's still a respectable number. However, Stuls has struggled against the Diamondbacks and at Chase Field. In five games (three starts) against the DBacks, Stults has a 5.85 ERA. He also has a high ERA at Chase Field. In nine total innings-pitched at Chase, Stults has a 9.00 ERA. Stults is a different pitcher this year though. He has a 3.18 ERA in August and has been steady since becoming a regular starter again.
Pattrick Corbin made his Major League debut on April 30th of this year. He's bounced back and forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen as needed. He has a solid 3.60 ERA this season. However, as a starter Corbin has a 4.05 ERA compared with a 1.54 ERA as a reliever. Against the Padres this year, though, Corbin has been solid. He's only pitched 4 1/3 innings against them, but he's put up an impressive 2.08 ERA. While he may be a rookie, he's a lefty, he's young, and he's got a lot of talent. The Diamondbacks are stacked with lefties in the rotation when they let Corbin venture out of the bullpen.
Game Two - 5:10 PM PT
Clayton Richard vs. Ian Kennedy
While Richard has a lot of losses this season and his ERA could be better, it feels like he has finally turned a corner in his career. He has a 3.73 ERA this season, but he has put together a nice string of starts of late. He's given up two runs or less in four out his last five starts. This includes his impressive performance against the Giants. Richard went eight innings, gave up five hits, and allowed just one run. Richard has tossed 15 1/3 innings against the Diamondbacks this season, and he's posted a 1.76 ERA. In his career, Richard has thrown 37 innings and posted a 3.89 ERA. However, at Chase Field, Richard has a decidedly higher ERA at 5.00 over the course of 18 innings.
Kennedy is a far cry from the Kennedy of last year. Last season, Kennedy placed fourth in NL Cy Young voting and 14th in MVP voting. He won 20 games and had a 2.88 ERA. This year, though, has been a struggle. Kennedy has a 4.24 ERA and a 4.16 FIP this year. He's striking out fewer this season, his BABIP against is higher, and his beard is shorter. Not sure about the beard, but he is definitely striking out fewer (7.91 per nine verse 8.03 per nine last year), and he's getting unlucky with the BABIP (.315 this year verse .270 last year). In nine starts against the Padres, Kennedy has a 2.34 ERA.
Game Three - 1:10 PM PT
Edinson Volquez vs. Joe Saunders
Volquez starts in every series doesn't he? I feel like every one of these previews have included a portion about Volquez. Is that even possible? I'm starting to run out of material here. So let's see, Volquez had a bounce-back performance in his last start against the Pirates. He went 6 2/3 innings and allowed just one run. He has a 4.18 ERA this season, so it's been hit an miss for him. Against the Diamondbacks, Volquez has a 4.15 ERA. At Chase Field, things get worse. He has a 5.61 ERA in two games pitched there. That's far too small a sample to draw conclusions, but Volqeuz's ERA jumps by 0.57 in away starts verse home starts.
Saunders may not actually be a Diamondback by the time this start comes around. There have been plenty of rumors surrounding Saunders, especially since Tyler Skaggs was called up. However, if Saunders does make his start, Arizona will be in good hands considering his last start against the Padres. Saunders went seven innings and allowed just four hits. In fact, in his career, Saunders has a 2.67 ERA. So far this season, he has a 4.22 ERA. He has battled injuries this season and is actually listed as day-to-day right now. He is experiencing pain in his thumb, but is expected to make his next scheduled start - which would be agains the Padres.
Like many fans hate the Dodgers and the Giants, I hate the Diamondbacks. Maybe it's the fact that as I grew up a Padres fan in Arizona, I felt their incessant attempts to steal my fanhood was both callous and inappropriate. Whatever the reason, I hate the Diamondbacks. With that in mind, I can foresee a couple bombs by Chase Headley, at least one bomb by Carlos Quentin, three doubles by Yonder Alonso, and at least a couple steals by Cameron Maybin. All that, forget about pitching, means the Padres will sweep the DBacks and run their winning streak to six games.