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


The Braves will pitch righthanders Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson, and Tim Hudson against San Diego in their three-game set.

Find out how they match up with the San Diego offense after the jump.

The Padres are a breaking ball-hitting team when you look at the numbers:

Fastball: -.69 runs per 100 pitches
Cutter: -.66
Slider: +.55
Changeup: -.30
Curveball: +.48

Jurrjens has a slider, but it’s his third pitch behind a fastball he throws 68% of the time and a changeup.

Jurrjens has trouble locating his offspeed stuff, so he can get in trouble when he tries to throw a get-me-over offspeed pitch early in the count. He’s not an overpowering pitcher, topping out around 93 mph, so even a weak fastball-hitting team like the Padres can have some success if they get ahead in the count and sit on the fastball.

Jurrjens’ inability to locate the changeup has forced him to get somewhat predictable with his fastball–68% usage is a lot. If he shows up without command of the change, then he becomes a two-pitch guy with one pitch (the fastball) the Padres can sit on and another (the slider) that San Diego is good at hitting.

This becomes similar to the situation Jurrjens’ opponent, Wade LeBlanc, will be facing, as the Braves’ lineup will likely struggle with LeBlanc’s changeup (much like the Padres could have trouble with Jurrjens’ heater) but could do damage to his slider (like the Braves could hit LeBlanc’s heater). Jurrjens, like LeBlanc, will thus need to mix it up to have success. The pitchers will be facing similar situations; the one that adjusts better likely will pull out the W.

Hanson is a breaking ball pitcher who uses his slider/curve combo around 40% of the time, which plays into San Diego’s hands. However, he does have a mid-90′s fastball that could cause problems.

Hanson’s curve and slider are good pitches, though. The curve has well-above-average break. The break makes it tough for Hanson to control, so he goes to it as a chase pitch with two strikes. Hanson has precise command of his slider, which also features solid movement.

With his degree of stuff and command, Hanson’s tough for any team. The Padres have shown the ability to hit breaking stuff, which does help their cause–they shouldn’t be completely helpless. Still, if he locates his stuff, he could be all sorts of trouble, and with the Padres running Jon Garland against a dead-red Atlanta offense that day, I don’t like San Diego’s chances in Game 2.

Finally, there’s Tim Hudson, who throws a tremendous low-90′s sinker and five offspeed pitches. He rarely gets swings and misses, but induces lots of ground balls. In this case, it becomes less important to look at pitch types and more important to look at the batted ball profile. Hudson’s going to get grounders, so the way to likely beat him is to have players who can beat out grounders, steal bases, take the extra base, etc. He’s going to limit extra-base hits.

The Padres are one of baseball’s better teams at doing that, and players like Tony Gwynn, David Eckstein, Everth Cabrera, Jerry Hairston, and Chris Denorfia could all factor into that gameplan.

It’s also worth noting that Hudson doesn’t limit homers as much as you’d think, so when he accidentally elevates the ball, it can go a long way. There’s a very real chance that Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Hairston, or Chase Headley could get a hold of one of those mistakes and put some runs on the board.

Still, though, Hudson has a 2.60 ERA for a reason, and it isn’t just his .232 BABIP (although that plays a role). He’s going to be tough, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he can beat Clayton Richard.

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Tags: San Diego Padres Series Preview