I was close. I called sweep, but instead the Padres took two of three from the Mets. It was a good series for San Diego that saw the club hit four home runs at home over a three game span - three of those home runs, not surprisingly, came in yesterday's day game.
The Padres will now host their sister club, the Cubs. That's right, I am dubbing them the sister club here and now. Considering much of the Cubs' front office has ties to San Diego, the fact that Anthony Rizzo is finding some success in his new digs, and neither team has ever won a World Series. Wait, what's that? The Cubs have won a World Series? Still, they are the Padres' sister club. Both are building through young, home-grown talent, evaluating players with detailed, in-depth statistical analysis, and were at one point battling for the worst record in baseball.
The Cubs come into town with a 44-62 record, firmly planted in fourth place in the N.L. Central. The Padres enter play Monday with a 46-64 record, also firmly planted in fourth place in their respective division.
Game One - 7:05 PM PT
Travis Wood vs. Eric Stultz
Travis Wood will bring his mullet and his mediocre fastball south to San Diego. Wood's last start was 8/1/12 against the Pirates. He went five innings and allowed just two runs. He then had to sit on the bench and watch the Cubs' bullpen implode as they normally do. The Cubs lost that game 8-4. Wood has a 4.90 ERA this season, but his 5.77 FIP indicates he's been surprisingly lucky with the defense he has behind him.
Kip Wells - er, I mean - Eric Stults will get the start for the Padres. Wells was designated for assignment yesterday and Stults was moved back into the starting rotation. Stults had spent some time on the DL this year, but he was activated on July 22nd. Since then, Stults has been pitching from the bullpen. Since his return from the disabled list, Stults has pitched 6 2/3 innings and allowed 3 runs. While it may seem like Stults and Wells are an equal swapping (although this would not be Wells' scheduled start), Stults has managed a 3.11 ERA overall this season. Wells has a 4.58 ERA. Both pitchers had much higher FIP's. If you're a big believer in belief - or a big believer that a team can own a particular pitcher, the Cubs own Eric Stults. In 13 1/3 innings against the Cubs, Stults has posted a 7.24 ERA.
Game Two - 7:10 PM PT
Someone vs. Ross Ohlendorf
The Cubs have not yet announced their starting pitcher, so that leaves me to guess it will be someone we've never heard of. Or it will be Anthony Rizzo making a spot start and moving away from his traditional spot at first base. This would be highly unusual, but since the Cubs have not announced their starter, we writer-types are free to throw out wild guesses. If I was really brave, I'd Tweet the following: Report - Anthony Rizzo to make first career Major League start for Cubs on Tuesday. The backlash would be incredible. But let's be clear here, it wouldn't be an easy match-up. We all know Rizzo is the master of the strikeout at Petco. Too soon?
In all honesty, it looks like either Casey Colman or Chris Rusin will start.
Ohlendorf maintains a high level of success in making me misspell his name. Beyond that, Ohlendorf has not had much success this season. He has a 6.27 ERA in 37 1/3 innings. There's really not many redeeming qualities to be found in Ohlendorf. He walks too many (4.34 per 9), he gives up 11.3 hits per 9 innings, and he gives up far too many home runs. The one bright spot to take away from Ohlendorf getting another start is that he actually has fared better as a starter in his career than a reliever. In 70 starts, he has a 4.73 ERA. In 35 games as a reliever, he has a 6.05 ERA.
Game Three - 3:35 PM PT
Jeff Samardzija vs. Clayton Richard
Notre Dame's wide receiver has finally figured baseball out it seems. Samardzija passed on football for a career in baseball - not a bad plan considering the guaranteed contracts players receive after their arbitration years are done. Samardzija's ERA of 4.37 is misleading. The Cubs have given him the chance to be a full time starter, so they must see something in him more than his high ERA. Perhaps, his solid FIP (3.62) and his xFIP (3.63). Or it could be that he throws the ball 700 mph* and does so with control. Samardzija's strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.64 is the highest of his career. Normally you see a drop-off here when player leave the bullpen and enter the starting rotation. Not with Samardzija, though.
*For the uninitiated, 700 mph in my world equals roughly (or exactly for the sake of this article) 95.0 mph. Samardzija's four-seam fastball tops out at around 99, but is steadily in the high 90's.
Clayton Richard will continue to throw left-handed. It's what he's got, so he's working with it. Richard has an uncanny ability to pick people off. So if he gets in a jam, like say giving up nine hits over nine innings (which just happens to be his H/9 ratio), he can just pick runners off. To his credit, Richard doesn't walk anyone. He ranks near the top in all of baseball in walks per nine innings. Richard averages 1.95 BB/9, good enough for 15th in all of baseball - right behind former-Padre Jake Peavy.
Sweep, I say! I am calling for the sweep again. It's the Cubs. If the Padres are going to sweep anyone, shouldn't it be the Cubs? Anthony Rizzo will get his first shot at redeeming himself in the Unfriendly Confines of Petco Park (trademark pending). Rizzo has 64 plate appearances at Petco and has hit just .173/.328/.365. But the fans, myself included, will be excited to see Rizzo again. The mania that surrounded his call-up last year is still fresh in our minds. His PCL-crushing ways still flutter through our memory banks. We can hope for his success as long as it doesn't come at the cost of any Padres defeats.