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Death Match - Padre Preview

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Season Series: Dodgers lead 5-3

Per Baseball Reference

61-42, 1st place in NL West (Schedule and Results)
View League Standings and Leaders

Manager: Buddy Black (61-42)
Scored 448 runs, Allowed 357 runs. Pythagorean W-L: 62-41

The Dodgers won last Tuesday 2-0 and seemed ready to make a serious push against the Padres/Giants. Instead they lost every game, and now find themselves facing the Padres again, but this time they have no margin for error. They simply have to start winning or the season is over.

Dodgers are right back where they started last week facing the Padres whose 61 - 42 is the best record in the National League. The Padres record given their lineup is something to behold, but now the Padres have added some legitimate thunder to the outfield. Ryan Ludwick is not the guy who slugged 37 home runs in 2008 but even the scaled down Ludwick offers more power then anything the Padres have had to protect AGON.  Luckily the Dodgers countered with PodMan.

Have to say I have nothing but the greatest respect for what the Padres have accomplished this year. If the Dodgers cannot make a run, then my heart will be all in on the Padres shocking the baseball world. This is a collection of misfits I can get behind.

For the Dodgers nothing brings the bats back like home cooking so expect lots of runs this week making the offensive futility of the past month a thing of the past. We may have to wait until the Nationals show up for those bats to awaken but I'd wager that Eric's review next week will have a fistful of plus .800 OPS.  

 Position Breakdown:

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 .382 and is slugging .516 on the year. 

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 had a .365 OB filling in for Eckstein during July.  

Shortstop- Big change here, as the Padres traded for B Vitamin Slugger Miguel Tejada. They have decided to go with offense over defense. Cabrera cannot hit but Tejada is not exactly swinging a big stick himself these days. Miguel had a .670 OPS in Baltimore, you would think that would not translate well to Petco but in this season, Miguel will probably go on a binge.

3rd Base- Chase Headley had a resurgence in July, putting up a wOBA of .387 with an OPS of .871.  Basically for one month he has looked like the top prospect the Padres thought they had.

Catcher- Nick Hundley and Yorvit Torrealba split the time catching for the Padres.  Torrealba was on fire in July posting a 1.042 OPS. I can't even remember the last time Martin posted a plus 900 OPS for a month.

Right Field - Now belongs to Ryan Ludwick. Ludwick has an .828 OPS in 2010 and we will have to wait and see how that translates to Petco.  

Left Field- Scott Hairston is still the lefty masher who should never be allowed to face Sherrill. With Ludwick in town, he might become more of a platoon with Venerable who has been displaced by Ludwick.

Center Field- Tony GwynnJr. might also start losing time in a platoon with Denorfia. Denorfia was the 2nd best hitter on the Padres in July lighting up the numbers with a .402 wOBA.

Starting Pitching for our Series:

Game 1: Clayton Richard has struggled in July putting up a 6.00 ERA but his FIP/xFIP suggest he's been unlucky (3.98 / 4.18). He's been their second best pitcher all year and will probably have a better career then all the pitchers the Diamondbacks and Astro's got back for Oswalt and Haren, and he was only part of the Peavy deal.   This was the baseball hq roto analysis of him at the all-star break:

  • He's maintained a strong GB%. That coupled with making 10 of his 18 starts at Petco have helped him avoid big innings and short outings. Sunday was the first time since May 5 that he failed to last 6 innings;
  • Richard's Dom rate continues to rise - like we hope it would at this stage of his career;
  • He's walking fewer batters than he did a year ago. A 0.6 improvement in Ctl doesn't sound like much, but it bumps his Cmd rate over the 2.0 threshold we like to see;
  • Richard hasn't been quite as good as his surface stats indicate - a 76% strand rate has helped keep his ERA below where it should be;
  • Game 2: Mat Latos is a young stud, the kind you build a rotation around. He only threw 56 innings in 2008, ramped that up to 122 in 2009 and currently on Aug 2nd has 117. If he can pitch big into Oct I'll be one surprised analyst.

    Game 3: Matt LeBlanc is the opposite of Clayton Richard. He's put up a 4.11 ERA but his FIP/xFIP (6.34/5.04) suggest he's been lucky.

    Game 4: Kevin Correia gets the call

    Bullpen:

    The Padre bullpen is fantastic.  .

    Series Prediction:

    Dodgers have to win every series from here on out. Now would be a good time to start.