Think about this for a moment; The San Diego Padres - yes your Padres - are 6.5 games back from a Wild Card spot. Sure it's unlikely that they can make up that amount of ground in the final 18 games of the season, but it's incredible to even see this team that close. Prior to the All-Star break, we were all wondering if this year's club would break the record for worst team in franchise history. Now, they are coming off a sweep, they've won three straight series, and they have climbed to within six games of .500.
The Padres welcome the Colorado Rockies to town, and San Diego will be looking for revenge.* The Rockies were the last team to deal San Diego a series defeat. In a three game set, the Rockies took two of three from the Padres at the end of August/beginning of September. The Rockies have struggled overall this year. They are the second worst team in baseball. Only the Astros have a lower winning percentage. Yet, Colorado has given the Padres trouble this season. With Jerry Coleman day scheduled for Saturday, let's hope the Padres can exact revenge on their foes from the Mile High City.
*Writer's note: I do not have some insider's knowledge of who particular player wish to seek revenge upon. I do not conduct clubhouse polls asking which team is most revenge-worthy. So my claim here is a complete guess. The Padres may simply be looking to play solid baseball, execute the fundamentals, and put some balls in play. However, the revenge quality makes this series so much more interesting, so I will embellish where I can.
Game One - 7:05 PM PT
Tyler Chatwood vs. Andrew Cashner
Chatwood sounds like a Sheriff in a remote town of the old Wild West. Sherrif Chatwood's coming to town to mow down some Friars. Ok, maybe he sounds like a Wild West villain more than a sheriff. In reality, Chatwood is a 22-year old righty with a 5.32 ERA this season. Chatwood debuted in April of 2011 with the Los Angeles Angels. He was the Angels' second round pick in the 2008 draft. In his career, Chatwood has started just 33 games and appeared in 42. He has a career 4.90 ERA. Against the Padres Chatwood has tossed two innings and gave up seven hits and three runs in those innings. However, he has never pitched at Petco - the polar opposite of Coors Field.
In his first start since July and since Cashner was injured, he was solid. He was held to a strict five inning limit and gave up two runs on four hits. On the season, Cashner is 3-3 with a 3.46 ERA. He has started four games this season and has shown enough to earn himself a full-time starting gig next season. When the Padres traded for Casher, it wasn't clear if they would use him in a closer's role or allow him to start. Eventually, the Padres made Cashner the promise that they would allow him to start in 2013. However, injuries made that 2013 promise a reality in 2012. Against the Rockies, Cashner has a whopping 18.00 ERA. He has pitched three innings against them and allowed six runs. None of those innings came in a start.
Game Two - 5:35 PM PT (Jerry Coleman Day)
Drew Pomeranz vs. Casey Kelly
Pomeranz is the Casey Kelly of the Rockies. He is their young prospect who was drafted in 2010 and made his debut at the end of last season. The difference is that the Rockies drafted him, whereas the Padres traded for Casey Kelly. Pomeranz has struggled adjusting to the Coors Field environment. In 22 starts, Pomeranz has a 4.91 ERA. The 5th overall pick has improved his K/9 ratio this year by a full strikeout over last season (6.4 to 7.4). His hits per nine innings, though, are dead even with last season. He has three starts against the Padres and has a 7.50 ERA. Even better, Pomeranz has two starts at Petco and has a 15.00 ERA.
Kelly has struggled of late. It wasn't clear whether the Padres would allow him to start another game this season, but as of now it looks like he will be starting Saturday. Kelly shined in his debut against the Braves, going six innings and allowing no runs. Since then, he has made two starts and given up a total of 13 runs in 8 innings. His ERA this season is now 7.07. He has good stuff, but he has struggled with location. He is not walking many batters, but he is leaving pitches over the heart of the plate. While Kelly may struggle throughout the rest of this season, the experience will be invaluable come next spring. Kelly was expected to debut around this time, but he has battled injuries at Triple-A and was thrust into the rotation earlier than expected. He is still a very bright spot with the Padres, but we may not see him at his full potential until next season.
Game Three - 1:05 PM PT
Alex White vs. Andrew Werner
White has not thrown more than four innings in a game since August 2nd. In total, he has had seven starts in which he at least pitched five innings. He's made 19 starts overall this year. White has a 5.18 ERA on the season. He is in just his second year. He debuted in April of 2011. In his career, White has a 5.85 ERA. He has certainly been affected by Coors Field, but White has been just as bad on the road. At home in his career, White has a 5.55 ERA. On the road, he has a 6.16 ERA. More importantly, on the road at Petco Park, White has started two games, pitched 11 1/3 innings, and given up six runs.
Werner is good. There's a phrase I heard on the radio yesterday; One is an occurrence, twice is a coincidence, and three times is a trend. Werner has started his career with four straight starts of at least six innings and two runs allowed or less. That's a trend. In his last start, Werner pitched 6 1/3 innings, and he gave up just one run. Perhaps most impressive, Werner has 23 strikeouts to just eight walks. He is averaging just two walks per start. Werner has not yet started against Colorado, but at Petco this season, he has a 2.45 ERA. He has been the Padres best pitcher since he debuted on August 22nd.
I'm struggling with the sweep call here simply because of Casey Kelly's start. I'm not sure what to make of Kelly just yet. But despite that hesitation, I'm going with it. The Padres will take all three games from the Rockies, move to within three games of .500, and find themselves achingly close to a Wild Card spot.
Keep the Faith!!