It wasn’t long ago the Padres found themselves getting beat up by the Braves. As a matter of fact it was a mere 4 days ago. Now after winning a series against the Cardinals they’ll get their chance for revenge against Atlanta these next 3 days, but this time in the friendly confines of Petco Park.
Leading the way tonight will be Eric Stults (3-13, 5.22 ERA). Stults has had a rough go of it in his last start against Atlanta. He started off with 2 strong innings and then the wheels came flying off the wagon and everything went downhill. He would end up surviving 6 innings, but not after allowing 6 runs.It has been clear that Stults is the weak link in the rotation, and not even pitcher friendly Petco can help him. In San Diego hitters are hitting .287/.332/.432 off him to the tune of a 4.50 ERA. I’ve said several times that Stults may be pitching for his life, but I no longer believe it. He’s turned in bad start after bad start and has remained with the team. Jason Lane made one start allowing just a single run over 6 innings a feat Stults has only accomplished twice in 21 starts in 2014. Despite this Lane was DFA’d and Stults gets the ball tonight. It doesn’t make sense to me, but it looks like Stults will continue to struggle and continue to get the ball every 5th day.
Going up against Stults will be Mike Minor (4-6, 5.23 ERA). Minor is one of the few starters in baseball who actually have a worse ERA than Stults even if it is just by 0.01. Despite that dubious distinction you wouldn’t have been able to tell based on his last start. Just like tonight he faced off against Stults and he “outdueled” him. Minor went 6 2/3 innings allowing 3 runs on 8 hits. It wasn’t the cleanest of outings for the struggling lefty, but it was far and away better than Stults. Hopefully the Padres will have more success against Minor tonight.
The issues with the 2014 Padre offense have been well documented. They’ve statistically the worst offense in baseball by a wide margin, but since the All Star break things have changed. The Padres are tied for the National League lead in runs scored with 61 runs in 13 games. That’s 4.7 runs per game, which is a big jump from their 2.9 runs per game before the break. Even with this recent scoring surge, they are still dead last in runs by a wide margin. Their 340 runs is still 53 behind the next closest team, the St. Louis Cardinals. It’ll be hard to make up for a first half struggles, but the signs of life are encouraging for 2015.
In the lineup tonight, Yangervis Solarte will be getting his first start in left field with the Padres. Solarte, much like Alexi Amarista, can play just about anywhere and we’ll get a chance to see him in the outfield. This will allow Chris Nelson to get into the lineup for the first time since Stults last start on the 27th of July. Making his first with the Padres will be Abraham Almonte, the center fielder acquired from the Mariners in the Chris Denorfia deal. Almonte hit .108 in 27 games with Seattle this year.
The Padres were able to take a series from a playoff contender in the Cardinals, and hopefully they’ll get off to a good start in this series tonight.
First pitch is at 7:10 PDT.