After stumbling out of the All-Star break, the Dodgers rebounded nicely picking up a much needed series victory at home against the New York Mets. By winning 3 out of 4 against the Mets and 4 out its last 5 games, Dodger fans have talked themselves off the ledge a bit and perhaps can begin to hope for a 3rd NL West crown. It would seem the time for the Dodgers to make their move is now as the next ten games are against the two teams ahead of them in the NL West Standings (7 against San Diego, 3 against San Francisco.)
Season Series: Dodgers lead 4-1
1st Base- Adrian Gonzalez remains the Padres premier hitter. Since the last time the Dodgers have seen the Padres, Gonzalez has gotten his numbers back up close to career norms. He enters the series with a wOBA of .387 and is slugging .530 on the year. His ISO is up to .235 which is north of his career average.
2nd Base- The 35 year old David Eckstein was placed on the 15-day disabled list on July 21st. Getting the 2nd base duties in his absence is Jerry Hairston who has started 20 games at second base. The 34 year old Hairston continues to be useless at the plate and comes into the series with a wOBA of .293. Defensively, Hairston is an average to slightly above average fielder at second base.
Shortstop- Youngster Everth Carbrera is now the everyday starting shortstop. Like his double play partner Hairston, Cabrera is a terrible hitter. Cabrera enters the series with a wOBA of .245. Cabrera doesn't have enough time in the field to have a meaningful sample for UZR purposes, but I'm going to assume his is an above average fielder because otherwise there is no reason why he would be a major league baseball player.
3rd Base- Chase Headley has regressed quite a bit since we last saw the Padres. Back in May, Headley had a wOBA of .353 with a BABIP of .368. As of now, the BABIP has normalized to .320 and the wOBA has come way down to .313. Headley doesn't hit for much power and he doesn't possess solid on base skills.
Catcher- Nick Hundley and Yorvit Torrealba split the time catching for the Padres. Torrealba continues to be the superior hitter and comes into the series with a wOBA of .341 compared to Hundley's .316. Hundley has a bit more pop with an ISO of .160 compared to Torrealba's .088.
Left Field- Scott Hairston who is Jerry's younger brother has slid over to left field full time. Hairston's hitting stats have also come way down since the Dodgers last saw the Padres. Hairston's wOBA is down to .316 with 9 home runs (Hairston had 5 home runs when the Dodgers last saw the Padres in May.)
Center Field- Tony Gwynn Jr. is the starting CF for the Padres. Like most of the team, Gwynn is a poor hitter. Gwynn enters the series with a wOBA of .300. Gwynn has an OBP north of his SLG (.330 vs. .320) Hairston is also able to play CF if necessary.
Right Field/Utility OF- Will Venable is posting a pedestrian wOBA of .328 coming into the series. Not a ton of pop for a corner outfielder as Venable only has 8 homeruns on the year and is slugging .406. Chris Denorfia is a utility outfielder who can play all three positions and has a wOBA of .350 on the year. Matt Stairs is pretty useless at this point with a wOBA of .259 and only 2 home runs on the season.
Starting Pitching for our Series:
Game 1: Jon Garland will take the hill for the Padres against Mr. Complete Game Chad Billingsley. Understandably, Garland couldn't continue to carry his insane sub 2 ERA like he had when the Dodgers last visited Petco, but he still has an ERA outperforming his x-FIP. His ERA on the year is 3.61 compared to an x-FIP of 4.44.
Game 2: Clayton Richard is a LHP who came to San Diego last season in the Jake Peavy trade. Richard has better numbers than Garland, as his ERA is only outperforming his x-FIP by a margin of 3.57 to 4.00. Pretty solid numbers for the lefty.
Game 3: Mat Latos is back from injury and will make the start against Vicente Padilla on Thursday. Latos was drafted by San Diego in 2006 and has been very impressive in his professional career so far. The 22 year old enters the series with a 2.48 ERA and an x-FIP of 3.49.
The Padre bullpen is fantastic. On the year, 6 relievers have appeared in at least 30 games. Of those players, Edward Mujica has the highest x-FIP at 3.04. Luke Gregerson has thrown 48.1 innings and has an x-FIP of 2.53. The closer Heath Bell has worked 43.1 innings and has 29 saves and an x-FIP of 2.72.
On paper, this doesn't seem like a great matchup for the Dodgers, at least not given the recent trends. Despite the hysteria in the media that the Dodgers need to add pitching, the pitching has held up pretty well lately particularly the starters. The bats on the other hand has been MIA. Going into a series against a team with lights out pitching, the Dodger bats will need to step up and deliver if the club is going to get a series victory. Nevertheless, the Dodgers need to leave Petco closer to first place then they are today and the bats can't be dormant forever.
I predict the Dodgers will win 2 out of 3.