After ending a 3-2 home stand on back-to-back sour notes this weekend, the San Diego Padres take a trip up the coast to take on the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants tonight at 7:15 p.m. for the first of three games at AT&T Park.
Monday’s series opener holds intrigue for the future of the Padres organization, even if that intrigue comes at a high price.
With scheduled starter Andrew Cashner headed back to the DL Monday, 27-year-old Cuban right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne will make his debut for the Padres tonight, after seven games in the minor leagues this season. Despaigne went 1-3 with a 6.03 ERA over 31.1 innings pitched and seven starts between Triple-A El Paso and Double-A San Antonio. The bulk of his innings (23.2) came at Triple-A, where he posted a 7.61 ERA, allowed three home runs, walked 13 and struck 29. In his last start against the Iowa Cubs on June 18, Despaigne allowed three earned runs, over five innings, with two walks and seven strike outs–his highest punch out total to date. Across his five Triple-A starts, he pitched into the sixth inning one time, and allowed less than four runs just twice.
A final note on Despaigne, from the Padre’s media notes for Monday’s game, he will become just the second Cuban-born pitcher to ever appear in a game for the Padres and the FIRST to appear as a starter. The only other, was reliever Eddie Oropesa who pitched in 16 games for San Diego in 2004. Of the 57 starting pitchers to make their big league debut for the Padres, the last to win that game was Casey Kelly in 2012.
Opposing Despaigne in his debut, is San Francisco right-hander Matt Cain (1-5, 4.52). Cain, who has dealt with injuries and ineffectiveness all season long after a great close to 2013, is coming off his worst start of the season. He allowed eight runs, seven earned, over five innings on the road at the Chicago White Sox on June 17. It marked the second of back-to-back five-inning starts for Cain, who has pitched into the seventh inning just two times in his last seven starts. He did toss seven innings of four-hit ball against the Padres on April 18 of this year. He allowed just a single unearned run, and struck out eight and took the loss in an eventual 2-1 Padres win.
With an average of just under three runs per game, the Padres enter play Monday with the league’s worst-producing offense. The top scoring club, Oakland, is averaging 5.12 runs per game. Meanwhile, MLB’s middle of the pack is represented by the Pittsburgh Pirates, at just over 4 runs per game, still an entire run off that average pace.
This will be the seventh meeting of the season between the Padres and Giants with each team taking three. The Giants won the last two games by a total score of 9-2 at the end of April. All time, the Giants lead with 408 wins in more than 760 meetings between the long time Western rivals.
The Padres will stay in the NL West for their next six games, including these three against the Giants. After an off-day Thursday, the Padres return home to open up a nine-game homestand with three against the Diamondbacks. 16 of San Diego’s final 20 games before the All-Star Break will now be against NL West opponents.