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Series Preview: San Diego Padres

The Padres have been a very up-and-down team this season, alternating hot stretches and cold stretches:

April 6-18 9-3
April 19 - May 14    
May 15 - May 25 10-0
May 26 - Sunday 3-8
Overall Record

Luckily for the Dodgers, the Padres come to town on one of those cold streaks, as they have lost eight of their last 11 games, through Sunday.

One constant for the Padres has been Adrian Gonzalez, who leads the majors with 22 home runs, including 15 away from the pitcher paradise that is Petco Park.  Unfortunately for Gonzalez, he happens to play the same position as the only player better than him in the National League, Albert Pujols.  Gonzalez is second in the league to Pujols in Equivalent Average, Adjusted Equivalent Runs, and Adjusted Runs Above Position.

The Padres top three players by VORP were all acquired in shrewd trades by GM Kevin Towers:

  1. Gonzalez (25.7 VORP) -- is there a better trade in the last decade than Gonzalez and Chris Young (and Terrmel Sledge) for Adam Eaton and Akinori Otsuka (and Billy Killian)?
  2. Scott Hairston (19.4) -- cast aside by Arizona, then acquired for reliever Leo Rosales, all Hairston has done since coming to San Diego is hit (75 OPS+ with Arizona, 133 OPS+ with the Padres)
  3. Heath Bell (10.8) -- the Padres got their replacement for closer Trevor Hoffman, along with Royce Ring, for minor league filler Jon Adkins and Ben Johnson (who has been out of baseball since 2007)

The Dodgers won't have to face Hairston, however, because he was placed on the disabled list last Wednesday, with a strained left biceps.

The Padres once again have a Tony Gwynn roaming their outfield, but this version is the son of the former Hall of Famer.  Gwynn, Jr., who as a Brewer helped knock the Padres out of the playoffs in 2007, has showed an increase in patience since coming to San Diego last month, with eight walks in 55 plate appearances.

This series is a short one, the rare two-game series, and all four starting pitchers have first names that start with C:

Tuesday, 7:10pm:  Tall Chris Young (4-4, 4.54 FIP) vs. Chad Billingsley (7-3, 2.79 FIP)

Wednesday, 7:10pmChad Gaudin (2-4, 3.95 FIP) vs. Clayton Kershaw (3-4, 3.97 FIP)

Billingsley is 6-3 with a 2.45 ERA in 11 career starts against the Padres, and has given up more than two runs against them in only two starts.

Nobody has given up more stolen bases from 2006-2009 than Young.  He has allowed 119 steals in his last 91 starts, and only six would-be stealers have been caught, for an astonishing, dare I say Phillies-like 95.2% success rate.  The Dodgers have won four of their last five games started by Young, although they only have five stolen bases in those five games.

Kershaw is 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in five career starts against the Padres. He has given up a total of one run in two starts this season, yet doesn't have a win.

Gaudin is penciled in to start Wednesday, even though he turned in two innings of relief in the Padres' 18-inning marathon game Sunday against Arizona, a mere two days after his last start.

2009 Padres
Record 26-30, 3rd NL West
Runs Scored 3.95/gm (15th in NL)
wOBA .311 (15th in NL)
Runs Allowed 4.84/gm (13th in NL)
FIP 4.30 (10th in NL)

The Dodgers have won four straight home games vs. San Diego, and nine of their last ten against the Padres at Dodger Stadium.

Season Series
April 6 Dodgers 4, Padres 1
April 7 Padres 4, Dodgers 2
April 8 Dodgers 5, Padres 2
April 9 Padres 4, Dodgers 3
April 30 Dodgers 8, Padres 5
May 1 Dodgers 1, Padres 0
May 2 Dodgers 2, Padres 1
May 3 Dodgers 7, Padres 3
Dodgers Lead 6-2

Without Hairston in the lineup, there is really nobody for the Dodgers to fear besides Adrian Gonzalez.  Expect him to be walked often with men on base.  The Dodgers miss Jake Peavy as well in this two-game set, and the Padres' bullpen has thrown 35.2 innings through their first six games of the June.  I never like to predict a sweep, even of a two-game set, but this series is a golden opportunity for the Dodgers to feast on San Diego.