How likely are the Friars to overcome what look like fairly tough matchups for their own starting pitchers? Let’s take a look.
With nearly ten strikeouts per nine innings, Yovani Gallardo is a legitimate ace.
Making things even tougher for the Padres is the fact that Gallardo rarely uses a changeup, the pitch San Diego’s lineup excels at hitting the most. Instead, he throws two breaking balls, a hard slider in the upper 80′s and a big curve in the upper 70′s. They complement a 90-95 mph fastball with a ton of late cutting action.
Using the curve as his out pitch to lefties, rather than the traditional changeup, is going to help Gallardo in this case, as Adrian Gonzalez has had trouble with curves this year while crushing changeups. The slider is very tough on righties, and the fastball could give the Padres fits.
The sole point in the Padres’ favor here is that Gallardo throws a lot of pitches out of the zone, and the Padres don’t tend to bite at those, so maybe they can get some walks (which Gallardo isn’t too shy about handing out) or force him to make mistakes up. Still, with Wade LeBlanc being a poor matchup against a fastball/changeup-hitting Milwaukee offense, the Padres better hope for some luck and a Brewer bullpen implosion.
Next up is Narveson, who throws the game’s filthiest curveball and little else of notice. The curve itself makes him a worthwhile starter, but Narveson lacks plus velocity, and his other offspeed pitches are poor. Seriously, though, that curve is great. It’ll buckle your knees when you see it. What a tremendous pitch.
Enough of my drooling over a gravity-defying bender, though: Narveson’s a nice little back-of-the-rotation starter who figures to deliver a fairly typical Narvesonian performance against the Padres (5-6 IP, 3-4 ER). It’s something of a toss-up between him and Kevin Correia, but I’ll take the Padres’ bullpen over Milwaukee’s, so I’d call San Diego the favorite here.
Finally, there’s Parra, who gets punchouts but allows far too many walks and homers. While his fastball has tremendous velocity for a lefty, it has been extremely poor every year in the majors. Parra also throws a below-average curve and slider. His one plus pitch is a splitter that gets a ton of empty swings, so, like Narveson, he has an out pitch, but nothing to really set it up with. The Padres are a patient team against offspeed stuff, so they’re likely to lay off those splits in the dirt, and it’s not like Parra can really afford for that to happen. I like San Diego’s chances here.
So, it looks like the games will get progressively friendlier as the series moves ahead. I was mostly correct about the last series; let’s see what happens this time around.