Find out how the Padres lineup matches up with the three Colorado pitchers after the jump.
De La Rosa’s all about power, as his fastball can reach the upper 90’s, a rarity for a lefthander. He’s developed an impressive changeup to go with the fastball, and also chucks a decent slider and the occasional curveball.
Adding some sink and velocity to his heater this year has turned De La Rosa into a groundball/strikeout machine.
Sounds tough, eh?
The one chink in the lefty’s armor is his command, as he’s walked over five batters per nine this year. The Padres will need to be patient to try to work a few walks, although that may have the side effect of leading to more strikeouts. Still, at least it gets the pitch count up, and the sooner a pitcher with this sort of stuff is out of the game, the better.
To hit De La Rosa, you obviously have to be able to hit a fastball. The Padres, unfortunately, are the second-worst team (behind the Mariners) at doing that.
Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Hairston, and Aaron Cunningham are the only three good fastball hitters on the team. Hairston has trouble with changeups, though, so De La Rosa could easily just work the changeup in more to him and be fine. Gonzalez and Cunningham do match up well, at least, but that’s two hitters out of eight.
It’s a tough matchup–hopefully the Padres get his pitch count up and the bullpen comes in by the seventh. Kevin Correia will certainly need to hold down the fort.
The second game is a big issue because Padres starter Wade LeBlanc doesn’t match up well with the Rockies, so San Diego will need to push some runs across. They’ll face Hammel, a big righty with a fastball/curve/slider/change mix of his own.
Unlike De La Rosa, Hammel’s strength is his breaking stuff, which comprises about a third of his pitches. His changeup is poor, and he overuses it, so that could help. He also underuses his curveball, which is easily his best pitch, throwing his average slider more than the big breaker. He does turn to the curve quite a bit in two-strike counts, however.
Hammel comes in throwing strikes, and is somewhat susceptible to the home run. Adrian Gonzalez struggles on curves, but the rest of Hammel’s arsenal shouldn’t be too tough for him, so unless Hammel gets to that two-strike count where he throws the curve, Gonzalez has the upper hand.
The Padres are an aggressive team that hits breaking balls well, and Hammel is a breaking ball pitcher who throws a lot of strikes. Game 2 of the series could be a shootout.
The final starter is Francis, who missed all of 2009 and hasn’t looked great in 2010, striking out just 4.34 batters per nine and posting a 5.12 ERA (just a 4.27 xFIP though).
Francis lacks intimidating velocity, sitting at just 84-89 mph, and his curve is just average. He has a good changeup, though.
Francis is good at pitch patterning, and will throw any of his pitches at any time in the count, so the Padres can’t do what they did with Hammel and ignore Francis’ out pitch until there are two strikes, then know it’s coming.
Since there isn’t that predictability, he’s going to be tough. The good news is that Francis won’t get many K’s, and that means the Padres will be able to put the ball in play frequently, giving them more shots at hits. Aaron Cunningham is an ideal matchup, as is Gonzalez, and Tony Gwynn excels at changeups.
Francis matches up better than Hammel, but worse than De La Rosa. I’d be surprised if he shuts the Padres down, but wouldn’t expect him to get bombed. With Clayton Richard matching up well against the Rockies lineup, the final game of the season’s first half is very winnable for San Diego.