Upcoming Series Matchups (7/20/10)–Padres Arms vs. Braves Bats

The Padres have a three-game set in Atlanta from Tuesday 7/20 to Thursday 7/22. They’ll run lefty Wade LeBlanc, righty Jon Garland, and lefty Clayton Richard against the Braves.

It’ll be a tough battle between the NL’s top two teams. Find out how the Padres’ three starters match up against Atlanta’s offense after the jump.

The faster a pitch is, the better the Braves seem to be at hitting it. Check out Atlanta’s Pitch Type Linear Weights against the five main pitch types:

Fastball: +.29 runs per 100 pitches.
Cutter: +.05
Slider: -.30
Changeup: -1.11
Curveball: -1.13

Looks like a trend to me. The team’s also +.93 against splitters–watch out, Ed Mujica!

The team’s weakness against the changeup plays right into LeBlanc’s hands, as he has a great one, and throws it a lot. Unfortunately, his other pitches are a fastball and cutter, neither of which are very good. He’ll need to use the changeup expertly to keep the Braves’ batters off the harder stuff.

Martin Prado will be a tough matchup. He’s one of the few Atlanta hitters who can stay back on a changeup, and he crushes hard stuff. Troy Glaus and Brian McCann could also cause trouble, and LeBlanc better not leave a fastball over the plate to Chipper Jones.

One of the most patient teams in the majors, the Braves aren’t a good fit for LeBlanc’s style, which involves getting batters to try to chase soft stuff that falls out of the zone. The team doesn’t have tremendous power, though, so LeBlanc may just wind up giving up lots of long fly balls that wind up safely in the gloves of the Padres’ outfielders. I think he’ll give up a fair amount of well-hit balls and baserunners, but ultimately keep the Padres in the game.

Jon Garland relies heavily on a fastball-cutter combo, which would seem ill-suited against a dead-red team like Atlanta, but it worked against a similar offense (Arizona) his last time out. Garland does have a curve and changeup in his arsenal that he should probably break out quite a bit in his start.

Maybe he’s just riding a hot streak that’ll get him through this tough assignment, but Garland left nine pitches in the middle part of the strike zone last time out–if he repeats that again, he can expect the Braves to make hard contact several times.

Richard also relies on his fastball, which got him in some trouble against Arizona last time out (9 hits, 6 liners, 5 earned runs, 2 walks, one homer in 6 1/3 IP).

Richard went to his slider against lefties almost 40% of the time in that start while going almost exclusively fastball-changeup against righties. That makes lefties who hit both fastballs and sliders (Jason Heyward, McCann, Gregor Blanco) and righties who can hit fastballs and changeups (Prado, Alex Gonzalez) tough matchups for him. His changeup is weak enough that even below-average changeup hitters like Glaus have a chance at doing something with it.

It’s a shame pitch-mixers Kevin Correia and Tim Stauffer will sit in this series. The Braves have a decent chance at doing some damage to all three San Diego starting pitchers.

Topics: Clayton Richard, Jon Garland, San Diego Padres, Series Preview, Wade LeBlanc

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