Having played more games than everybody in baseball (it seems), the Padres got another off day yesterday. They were off last Thursday but still managed to get Monday off as well. I'm not sure what to make of the extra rest at the end of the season. It could be good, or it could hurt momentum. With the Rockies series in the books and the Padres now sitting on a 71-76 record, San Diego heads to Phoenix to face the Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
Against Colorado, San Diego had its fair share of struggles (which seems to be the theme against the Rockies), but they won the series, and thus won the season series. In the finale, we got to see a Coors Field-like game right at home in Petco. The Padres managed to pull it out 12-11 on the speed of Everth Cabrera and the bat of Yonder Alonso. It was the Padres baseball we've grown to love over the last month and a half.
San Diego will carry their momentum to Chase Field where they have a chance to overtake the Diamondbacks in the standings. That's right, the Padres can drop the defending NL West champions to fourth in the division.
Game One - 6:40 PM PT
Eric Stults vs. Ian Kennedy
Stults continues to be impressive on the mound as a Padre. His career numbers do not inspire great excitement, but his numbers for the Padres do. In six seasons, Stults has a 4.12 ERA. He has bounced back and forth between the bullpen and the rotation. That trend continued with San Diego, but he doesn't seem to mind. With the Padres this year, Stults has a 2.54 ERA. He has made 11 starts now and four relief appearances. In his last start, Stults gave up three runs for the first time since August 18th. On August 18th, he gave up five against the San Francisco Giants. However, he's been lights out in between those two bookends. Against the Diamondbacks this year, he is 1-1 with a 2.03 ERA.
Kennedy continues to struggle this year but he's been fantastic in two of his last three starts. In his last start against the Dodgers, Kennedy went 7 1/3 innings and allowed no runs. The Padres have had his number this year though. In 18 1/3 innings, Kennedy has a 5.40 ERA against the Friars. And he's been horrible at home. Kennedy has a 4.70 ERA in 12 starts at Chase Field this year. The Padres will look to chase him early and get to Arizona's bullpen.
Game Two - 6:40 PM PT
Edinson Volquez vs. Trevor Cahill
Volquez improved to 10-10 on the season with his win against the Cardinals on 9/11. He pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowed four hits, and gave up three runs - two earned. He has been wildly inconsistent since the end of July. He has some good starts, but then he has some really bad starts. Against the Diamondbacks this year, he has pitched 20 innings and has a sparkling 2.70 ERA. At Chase Field this year, that ERA drops to 2.57. Volquez will look to continue his Diamonbacks/Chase Field dominance while knocking the Diamondbacks further from contention. He will have to control his walks though, which is always a tall order. Volquez continues to lead all of baseball in walks with 100.
Trevor Cahill has been surprisingly consistent for Arizona. He is not pitching at a Cy Young level by any stretch, but Cahill has managed to keep his ERA under 4.00 for most of the season. He currently has a 3.92 ERA and is coming off a seven inning gem he pitched against the Dodgers. On September 12th, Cahill went seven and gave up just two runs in the DBacks win over the Dodgers. He has been dominant against the Padres. In 24 2/3 innings, Cahill has a 2.55 ERA. However, at Chase Field, he has a 5.10 ERA. Something's got to give.
Game Three - 1:40 PM PT
Clayton Richard vs. Tyler Skaggs
Richard will look for his 14th win on the season. Considering he was 9-12 on August 14th, Richard's run has been impressive. He has dropped his ERA from 3.91 on that date to 3.74 currently. In his last start, Richard allowed just two runs in seven innings of work against the Cardinals. The southpaw has gone from league-leader in losses to a respectable 26th in wins. He has tossed 23 1/3 innings against the Snakes this season, and he has a low 2.31 ERA against them. In his career at Chase Field, Richard will look to turn things around. He has a 4.50 ERA in four starts in the desert.
Skaggs has been a surprise for the Diamondbacks. Not like the type of surprise where you don't see him coming, but a surprise in the fact that he is having this success while Trevor Bauer couldn't stay up with the big league club. Skaggs has now made five starts for the DBacks. His 5.55 ERA is nothing to be impressed with, but he's managed to stay in the rotation. It could be the product of Arizona seemingly giving up on the season, or it could be something the front office sees in him that they want to utilize now. Bauer started four games and posted a 6.06 ERA before being sent down. The concern the Diamondbacks should have, and the thing the Padres should exploit, is that Skaggs has been hit hard in his last two starts. After starting the season with three-straight starts without allowing more than two runs, Skaggs has given up 10 runs in seven combined innings in his last two starts. One of those two starts came against the Padres.
This series is more than just a series in which the Padres can inch closer to .500. This is a series in which San Diego can leapfrog a division rival, a series in which they can take down the defending champs. This is a series that will build confidence. If the Padres win one more game this season, they will have matched their wins from last year, so they don't need this series. However, you can almost feel as though they want it. They want it more than Arizona. With that in mind, I foresee a sweep.
Keep the faith!!