Last night the Padres proved that they can walk a ton of guys and still manage to get a win. Tonight there might not be such a large margin for error. The Cubs’ starting pitcher is a power pitcher with electric, shutdown stuff. Fortunately, so is the young man taking the rubber for the Padres tonight.
To say that the MLB debut for Dinelson Lamet was impressive seems like a disservice. In his five-inning, eight-strikeout outing, he dominated a quality Mets lineup under the big lights of a big city. From his presence on the mound to his power repertoite, he has the look of a front-line starter. His command wavered through his debut, and that’s always been a challenge for him throughout his minor league career, but his ability to strike batters out and induce weak contact has been consistent through his development. Some analysts aren’t high on the quality of his off-speed pitches, but they kept the Mets hitters off balance, and they can do the same to the Cubs.
Eddie Butler has long been in the discussion of up-and-coming starting pitchers. He seemed to flame out in Colorado yet still held a reputation of future promise. An offseason trade to the Cubs has given him a fresh start, and he’s hit the ground running. In three starts, he’s 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA. There may be some smoke and mirrors at work, as his FIP (3.88) and xFIP (5.11) suggest that he’s had more than his fair share of fortune. He’s a player in transition, as Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio has worked to undo some of the things that the Rockies’ coaching staff ingrained into him to get him back to his comfort zone of two-seamers on the arm side of the plate, and they have him using more curveballs and less sliders. (Boy, that kinda sounds like Drew Pomeranz last year). He’s not a strikeout artist, so expect to see plenty of balls in play for the Padres. The Padres have the league’s second-worst batting average on balls in play (BABIP), but that stat doesn’t include home runs! Butler has yet to allow a homer this season, but his 20% HR/FB rate last year suggests that he’s due.
It’ll be a cool evening with the marine layer moving in, but the Padres’ bats have plenty of pop to drill through the dense air. Bring your gloves to the ballpark and pray for baseballs to rain into the cheap seats!
Start time: 7:10PM PDT
Radio: 94.9FM, 860AM (Español)
TV: Fox Sports San Diego, Fox Deportes San Diego