The Padres have seen their division lead shrink to two games over the hard-charging San Francisco Giants, but the team gets a chance to possibly gain some breathing room with their upcoming three-game set against the 41-68 Arizona Diamondbacks (Meanwhile, San Francisco is playing Atlanta).
First off, let’s have a nice, long copy-paste about Garland and Richard from my preview of the July 16 series:
Arizona is a dead-red team, as they fare well against fastballs and cutters while struggling against anything offspeed.
Garland’s offspeed stuff isn’t good enough for him to rely on it, even against a fastball-hitting team. That means he’ll need to be extremely precise with his location and pitch sequencing to succeed. He absolutely can’t get the ball up in the zone against the Arizona hitters, who have more than enough power to take him deep, even at Petco.
Unfortunately, Richard fits the same bill as a pitcher who doesn’t have a weapon to go with his combination of two-and-four-seam fastballs. Like Garland, he lacks the velocity to throw the ball by good fastball hitters, and doesn’t have another knockout pitch.
The good news is that Richard’s fastball is better than Garland’s, and that most of the good Arizona hitters (Montero, Drew, Johnson, Adam LaRoche, Gerardo Parra) are lefties. Richard dominates against lefties, and his slider and curve give him pitches that are effective to same-side hitters. It’s righthanders who have no trouble with his breaking stuff, and his changeup and cutter aren’t effective to righties either.
That makes Upton and Reynolds a problem, but those two have the potential to crush just about anyone.
So there’s that.
Not a whole lot’s changed since I wrote that three weeks ago, except that Garland doesn’t have to face Dan Haren in his matchup and the Diamondbacks traded away one solid hitter (Chris Snyder) and got two poor ones (Bobby Crosby and Ryan Church) in exchange.
It’s worth noting that Garland, despite my pessimism for his matchup against Arizona, threw very well on July 16, allowing just three hits and one run in six innings. He had more trouble in two April starts against them, however. Arizona has pushed him out pretty early all three times, so the bullpen will need to come through in the series opener.
Richard got hit around a bit in his outing against Arizona July 17, having trouble with Justin Upton and Adam LaRoche and allowing a homer to Chris Young. The fact that Garland excelled and Richard didn’t shows how unpredictable this stuff can be. Richard’s still facing Rodrigo Lopez, the same pitcher he faced last time against Arizona, and the Padres hit Lopez hard, so with Richard likely to do a little better, I’d be pretty optimistic about Game 2. Other than that, I don’t have too much to add on Richard beyond what I said three weeks ago.
Alas, Mat Latos was on the DL when the Padres last played Arizona, so I can’t be super-lazy and simply copy-paste for all three pitchers.
As the above pasted text mentions, though, Arizona is a team that tends to hit heaters well and flail against breaking/offspeed stuff, so Latos’ good slider, curve, and changeup should work very well overall, and his fastball is probably good enough to work okay against many of the hitters as long as he locates it.
Kelly Johnson poses something of a threat because he’s good against fastball, sliders, and changeups. Reynolds, Young, Upton, LaRoche, and Rusty Ryal can all hit a fastball. Upton is the only one of those who’s good on sliders, though, and he has trouble with changeups.
Obviously, Latos will need to spot his fastball well with so many effective dead-red hitters facing him. It’s a good enough pitch that if he spots it, he shouldn’t give up any game-crushing hits. He’s not a fastball-reliant pitcher by any means, though, so he should be okay–not many teams match up well against a guy with four plus pitches and good command.