2014 Head to Head Record: (0 – 0)
2013 Head to Head Record: Nationals 5 – 2
getting swept, salvaging a game from the Angels in a dramatic 9th inning come back, the Nats welcome the lowly San Diego Padres to town after having dropped two of three to the Brewers. Always the bridesmades, San Diego is in a tough division to make any headway and there isn’t a lot of hope their sub-.500 record will improve much. Decent starting pitching, not a great bullpen and a really bad offense. This is San Diego baseball.
How the Nats Win: The Padres have just scored 60 runs. Good for DFL in MLB. They have, however, only given up 70 runs, putting them just behind Atlanta and Oakland and St. Louis, tied with Milwaukee in that regard. They are a nearly .500 team because they pitching keeps them in games. The difference between road and home splits, however, is telling.
Petco park is beatiful, but its also a canyon. In 13 games at home they’ve given up 34 runs. In just 9 games on the road, they’ve given up 36. The pitching and defense starts come undone at the seams a bit when they are not in their massive stadium.
As such, given the pitching mismatches, the Nats are set up to take the first two games of the series. Shooting for three, and beating either Cashner or Kennedy is what this team should be expected to do. The Nats pitching, even if it hasn’t lived up to the idealized standards of the home town crowd, ought to be enough to hold down one of the weakest teams in the league offensively. If Zimmermann and Strasburg don’t dominate this lineup in games 1 and 2, be annnoyed. Be very annoyed.
The back half of the series is going to come down to the Nats getting a little lucky, and having some of the at bats against better pitching we’d hope to see. Getting Cashner or Kennedy out of the game early is the only hope for either Saturday or Sunday because I don’t expect Tanner Roark (who I’m willing to admit might surprise me) or Taylor Jordan (who I do not think will surprise me at all) to go toe to toe with the other two pitchers.
Three Padres to Watch For: The afformention Andrew Cashner is a legit starting pitcher who throws primarily fastball, slider and change up. The two-seamer and four seamer are both in that 93-94 MPH range, with huge drops to Slider (83.5 MPH) and change (84.7 MPH). If you arrange the Padres by offensive production, you see backup outfielder Chris Denorfia is at the top of the list. Filling in for the injured Carlos Quentin, Denorfia has put up a .367 wOBA (.328/.349/.492 if you’re a slash line person) in 21 games and 64 plate apperances. Lastly Jedd Gyrko (pronounced Jerk-O…not kidding) who finished 6th in the NL Rookie of the year vote in 2013 has had a brutal start to the season. He’s currently hitting .135/.226/.216 (I can’t even remember the last time I saw a guy with a smaller SLG than OBP) and .203 wOBA. He’s rated as a -7.4 Offensively right now. There is an excellent chance that this is bad luck (He has a BABIP of .176). I’m going to be watching him to see if there is actually something to the player who just signed a five year extension with San Diego, or if the MLB has caught up with with the second year player.