Season Series: First meeting of the year.
The Dodgers travel to San Diego in what feels like a statement series. After finally climbing their way up to .500, the Dodgers get a chance to take on the NL West rival currently sitting atop the standings in the San Diego Padres. The Dodgers have climbed out of the basement by winning their last 4, and 7 out of the last 10. Meanwhile, the Padres have stayed hot winning their past 3 and also winning 7 of the last 10.
Old Friends: Jon Garland
1st Base- Adrian Gonzalez is still very good at baseball. That being said, on the year he hasn't quite been producing to the level he did last season. This season to date, Gonzalez has posted a solid (but hardly other-worldly) wOBA of .363 compared to .402 last season. Power is down quite a bit to an ISO of .195 compared to .275 last season. His defense is solid enough, posting a UZR of 5.0 last season.
2nd Base- David Eckstein remains the scrappy little gamer with a big heart. In truth, Eckstein isn't that much of a disaster as people like to maintain (since he gets praise well above his skill level) but he still doesn't do much at the plate. On the season Eckstein has a wOBA of .313. He's still a below average second baseman as Eckstein posted a UZR of <3.5> last season.
SS- Jerry Hairston is a veteran shortstop who has been a disaster at the plate so far this season. The 34 year old has posted a very poor wOBA .242. It's one thing to be unable to hit for power, but an OBP of .270 is garbage. Hairston also rates as a slightly below average fielder, posting a UZR of <1.0> last season.
3rd Base- Chase Headley is having a nice year so far at the plate, though much of it to date is BABIP driven. Headley enters the series with a wOBA of .353, but with an unsustainable BABIP of .368. Headley hasn't shown much pop this season,with an ISO of .091 and only 2 homeruns. Since switching back to 3rd base, Headley is a much more competent fielder as UZR ranks him as a slightly above average third baseman (compared to being a disastrous left fielder.)
Catcher- Yorvit Torrealba has taken over the starting catching job but has mostly platooned with Nick Hundley. BABIP driven as it may be (BABIP .390) Torrealba has earned the starting job at this point posted a wOBA of .360. Maybe Torrealba will keep it interesting and bait Matt Kemp into shoving him in the face again.
Right Field- Will Venable comes into the weekend series with a really ugly .214 batting average but his wOBA of .328 is more respectable (if below average.) Venable has done a nice job slugging the ball this season with a .204 ISO. Venable plays plus defense posting a UZR of 5.9 last season.
Center Field- Scott Hairston, Jerry's little brother, gets the majority of the starts in center field and has been hitting brilliantly. Out of the gate, Hairston has a wOBA of .388, slugging .521 and hitting 5 homeruns on the year. Hairston is also a competent outfielder with a UZR of 1.7 last season.
Left Field- Kyle Blanks is a second year player who's struggled a bit at the plate this season. Blanks enters with a .180 batting average so the Padres may be a bit impatient with Blanks, but his .313 wOBA (while bad) isn't quite as dreadful. In limited action last season, Blanks was rated as an above average fielder.
Nick Hundley platoons with Yorvit Torrealba but hasn't played quite as well as his teammate. Hundley has a wOBA of .324 on the year.
Tony Gwynn has done little with the plate appearances he has had this year with a wOBA of .300 and 1 homerun off the bench.
Matt Stairs- I don't really know much about this guy. I wonder if he has some power.
Starting Pitching for our Series:
Jon Garland had a brief cameo with the Dodgers last season coming over in a waiver deal to bolster the starting pitching before the post-season. Even though Garland cost the Dodgers former prospect Tony Abreu, he was ultimately left off the post-season roster and the Dodgers declined his option in the off-season. On the year, Garland has an insane split between his ERA and x-FIP; entering the series with an ERA 1.71 and x-FIP of 4.53. Hopefully Manny and Andre can facilitate his regression to the mean.
Kevin Correia is slated as the starting pitcher on Saturday despite dealing with awful family issues. Correia has been solid on the year posting an x-FIP of 3.55.
TBA will be called upon for San Diego on Sunday as they attempt to avoid the sweep. Anybody with more up to date pitching probable information than the Dodgers and Padres websites, feel free to post in the comments.
The Padre bullpen has been fairly solid so far. Closer Heath Bell comes in with an ERA of 1.13 and an x-FIP of 2.82. Bell already has 10 saves on the year. Luke Gregerson leads the bullpen in innings pitched and has been solid as well, posting an ERA of 1.45 and an x-FIP of 2.54.
Despite missing the mark on my last prediction, and from getting complaints from some members of the community to stop making predictions, I can't help but call my shot. I think the Dodgers are a better team and are playing their best baseball of the year. The Dodgers seem comfortable playing in the division and (other than starting Ramon Ortiz on Friday) the matchups favor the Dodgers. Dodgers win 2 of 3.