Upcoming Series Matchups (7/6/10): Padres Arms Vs. Nationals Bats

Continuing from the SD offense/Washington pitching matchup I outlined in the last article, let’s take a look at how projected Padres starters Clayton Richard, Jon Garland, and Mat Latos match up against the Washington offense.

(after the jump)

Clayton Richard lives and dies with his fastball–that’s no secret. He lacks a second solid pitch to righthanders (his slider and curve are okay against lefties), so he’s vulnerable to righty fastball hitters. The Nationals have one–Josh Willingham. Willingham’s had an incredible year, and dealing with him is going to be a real problem for Richard, although the .281/.413/.513 hitter is going to cause trouble for just about anyone.

Beyond that, Mike Morse can hit a fastball, but I’m not overly concerned about him. Ryan Zimmerman, if you’re wondering, has only been about average this year against fastballs, so he’s not likely to cause Richard any more trouble than he would against another lefty.

Adam Dunn is a supreme fastball hitter, the best on the team, but he’s lefthanded, and Richard eats lefties alive.

He’s going to have to be very careful with Willingham (and perhaps Morse, if he starts), but otherwise, Richard’s got a good matchup here–a fastball pitcher against a team of poor fastball hitters. The Nationals don’t really distinguish themselves against offspeed stuff either, so I wouldn’t expect them to take complete advantage of Richard’s weak offspeed offerings.

Jon Garland, the Padres’ second starter, relies almost exclusively on a two-seam fastball and cut fastball, occasionally mixing in a slider, curve, or changeup. Dunn could eat Garland’s two-seamer alive, but he’s really flailed against cutters this year, so if Garland sticks with that and the occasional changeup, he should be okay. Willingham and Zimmerman are the only hitters on the team who have been above average against both fastballs and cutters this season.

Garland is going to need to pitch Dunn carefully–he doesn’t have the stuff to try to strike the big first baseman out, so he just needs to look for weak contact by busting him inside with the cutter. A two-seamer in Dunn’s wheelhouse will lead to runs on the scoreboard. Beyond that, he’s got to spot his stuff well to Zimmerman and Willingham, but that’s about it. Another solid matchup.

That brings us to Latos, who throws four plus pitches in his fastball, slider, changeup, and curve. We just went over the deal with fastballs from a righty to this lineup with Garland, so apply the same logic to Latos, although his power stuff should be good enough to rack up some K’s on Dunn, unlike Garland’s.

The Nationals are a breaking-ball-hitting team, so Latos needs to be careful with overusing his breaking stuff, which currently comprises about 30% of his pitches. Cristian Guzman, Morse, Zimmerman, and Dunn are all excellent against sliders, and Nyjer Morgan, Ivan Rodriguez, and Willingham rate solidly as well. Latos’ slider has rated as his best pitch by far this season, but he throws it about 25% of the time. He can feel free to attack Ian Desmond and Adam Kennedy with the pitch, but that’s about it–he should probably use it as more of a chase pitch against the Nationals’ lineup, keeping it out of the strike zone.

Lest you think that’s a huge detriment, remember: Latos has a mid-90’s heater, and he’s facing a team that can’t do much with fastballs. He can deal with it.

Dunn’s weakness to the changeup could play into Latos’ hands, and if Morse is in the lineup, he’s struggled with changeups as well.

Latos actually matches up worse than Richard or Garland because he throws so many sliders, but his fastball alone should be able to do a serviceable job here.

Tags: Clayton Richard Jon Garland Mat Latos San Diego Padres Series Preview

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