Hey everyone! Champ Kind, Channel 4 News Team Sports, here.
I'm all about having fun. You know, get a couple of cocktails in me, start a fire in someone's kitchen, maybe go to Sea World, take my pants off. In this week's baseball matchup, we have the Atlanta Braves coming to town to face our Padres in a 3-game series. They just swept the defending champion San Francisco Giants this past weekend and they really kicked their hineys. The key --
He said hiney!
Damnit, Brick. Get out of here. The pancake breakfast isn't until next week.
As I was saying, the keys to the Braves winning yesterday's game were a couple late-inning WHAMMYS! and then a big hit from Nate McLouth to clinch it in the 10th inning. It was their first sweep of the season. After further inspection, Buster Posey was still out and Jason Heyward is still better. Now that that's all cleared up, let's get onto the Series Preview...
Thanks for the introduction, Champ. The Braves are taking on the San Diego Padres for the final three games of their west coast road trip and are looking to return to Atlanta with a .500+ road trip. The Padres, who are now 8-14 and in last place in the NL West, were just swept by the Phillies. In that 4-game series, they scored just three runs. Let's take a look at their team.
Wow. I'm not even sure where to begin. Cameron Maybin (.883), Nick Hundley (.835), and Chase Headley (.718) are the only Padres to have an OPS above .700. Chris Denorfia has had success in April, but he's currently injured with a strained groin. Orlando Hudson (.229/.349/.271), Ryan Ludwick (.194/.301/.319), Jason Bartlett (.242/.311/.273), Will Venebale (.172/.290/.190), Jorge Cantu (.145/.200/.218), and Brad Hawpe (.104/.154/.125) have all been somewhere between mediocre to awful this season.
The Padres have struck out the 2nd most in baseball (24.4%; wow.), but they will walk as well (10.3%). They will also run a bit, and guys like Maybin (6), Venable (6), and Hudson (7) will steal a base or two if they're able to get on base.
As a whole, the Padres are last in runs scored and are probably the worst offensive club in all of baseball. The Braves pitchers should have a pretty easy time in this series. You just never know, though.
Dustin Mosley (0-3, 1.40 ERA, 3.75 FIP, 4.15 FIP, .261 BABIP) is a pitcher who relies heavily on groundouts to get through his games, and he's been pretty lucky on the mound to start the season. He's stranded 84.5% of the runners on base (which isn't sustainable) and he doesn't walk or strikeout many. As crazy as it sounds, the Padres have scored just one run when Mosley pitches. Perhaps Dustin and Kenshin Kawakami should have lunch sometime.
Aaron Harang has been the Padres best pitcher this season and he's had some impressive results (4-0, 1.88 ERA, 1.92 FIP, 3.38 xFIP). The former-Red has struck out quite a few batters (7.88 K/9) and hasn't walked many (1.88 BB/9) and has seemed to found new life in the friendly confines of Petco Park. It'll be interesting to see if Harang is for real on Tuesday night or if he just found some luck in his first few starts.
Mat Latos is unquestionably the Padres most talented pitcher, but he's struggled in 2011 (0-3, 5.94 ERA, 6.35 FIP, 3.99 xFIP). He has had his strikeout pitches working (10.80 K/9), but control has been a big issue (4.86 BB/9). Despite his ineffective season, I wouldn't bet against Latos figuring it out at any moment. The kid throws hard, and he's capable of shutting down even the most difficult lineup on any given night.
The Padres bullpen is very good. They're ranked in the top-5 in ERA (2.68), FIP (3.09), and xFIP (3.60). They strike out a few (7.91 K/9) and don't walk many (3.04 BB/9) and they're led by All-Star closer Heath Bell. Set-up man Mike Adams is among the best in the business and righties Luke Gregerson, Chad Qualls, and Ernesto Frieri have all been very tough in the middle innings. Cory Luebke is the only lefty in the 'pen and he's been decent this season despite running into a bit of bad luck.
As a whole, they're really good. Perhaps one of the top-3 in the entire National League. The Padres starters aren't slouches by any means, but the 'pen really keeps the opposition's bats in check most nights.
The Padres can pitch, but their offensive production has been minimal. They've just been swept by the Phillies, while the Braves are playing their best baseball of the season. I see the Braves winning 2 out of 3, but a sweep isn't out of the question at all.