Upcoming Series Matchups (7/23/10)--Padres Bats vs. Pirates Arms

The Padres will face Pirates lefty Paul Maholm and righties Jeff Karstens and Brad Lincoln in their upcoming series.

Find out how those three stack up against San Diego’s offense after the jump.

I’ve stressed before that the Padres are a breaking ball-hitting team that struggles with quality fastballs and changeups. Maholm, then, is the sort of pitcher the Padres like to face. He doesn’t have an overpowering fastball, topping out around 90 mph. He also doesn’t have a particularly good changeup. His two best pitches are a low-80’s slider and low-70’s curveball, and neither of them have particularly impressive movement.

Maholm, as you’d expect, is not a strikeout pitcher, with just 4.50 K/9. The reason he’s a serviceable big league starter is because he keeps the ball down and gets over 50% groundball rates every year. The Padres aren’t really a power-hitting team, though, so they’re happy to hit the ball on the ground and run–especially guys like Everth Cabrera and Luis Durango.

Maholm has enough moxie and pitch-mixing ability to turn out a 6 IP, 3 ER start against the Padres, but he could do much worse and is unlikely to do much better.

Next up is Karstens, who is really the antithesis of a pitcher who can beat San Diego. His high-80’s fastball and high-70’s changeup are both very poor pitches, so he throws a breaking pitch–either a slider or a big, slow curve–about a third of the time. The slider isn’t a very good pitch, making it easy meat for San Diego hitters. The curveball is actually something of a plus pitch, thanks to its impressive horizontal sweep, but the Padres are tied for the seventh-best team in the majors against curves, so whatever advantage Karstens normally has there is neutralized against the Padres.

Few major league starters have less of a chance for success against San Diego’s offense than Karstens. Making things even better for San Diego is that he’s facing Mat Latos.

Finally, the Padres will face the rookie Lincoln, who has struggled mightily this year. He throws strikes, but leaves too many pitches in the middle of the plate, leading to tons of contact (just 3.65 K/9) and an elevated homer rate (1.42 HR/9).

Lincoln relies on a–you guessed it–breaking ball as his out pitch, throwing his curve over a quarter of the time. It’s a plus pitch, but his fastball is not, as it’s very straight and hittable despite 90-94 mph velocity. Lincoln also has a sinking changeup that works well, but he rarely throws it.

Again, the Padres should be able to deal with the curveball, and unless Lincoln suddenly breaks out his changeup extensively, he’s unlikely to have much success.

It’s certainly a very winnable three-game set for San Diego. Hopefully they can sweep and put some added distance between themselves and their three NL West competitors.

Tags: San Diego Padres Series Preview

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