San Diego Padres starting pitcher Robbie Erlin. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Last night, the Padres struggled to get anything going on offense. Jorge De La Rosa and the Rockies stymied the Padres’ hitters all night long, but today is a new day and there’s a chance the bats may catch fire again.
Unfortunately for the Padres, they have to deal with Jordan Lyles (5-0, 2.66 ERA) tonight. Lyles has been dominant in 2014, and to make matters worse, he’s been even better at home. In his 3 starts at Coors Field he’s 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA and a WHIP of 0.97. The one saving grace for the Padres is that they hit him pretty well earlier this year. In his shortest outing of the year, he allowed 3 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks in just 5 innings of work. That was in pitcher friendly Petco, but can the Padres duplicate that success in hitter friendly Coors? We can only hope.
Opposing him will be the young Padres’ lefty Robbie Erlin (2-4, 4.22 ERA). He’ll try to be as effective as his fellow lefties, Jorge De La Rosa and Eric Stults, were last night. Erlin has pitched extremely well in his last 3 starts, each one better the one one prior. In his last outing, he tied his season high in strikeouts with 7 while pitching 6 1/3 innings of shutout ball. If Erlin can continue to dominate, he should be able match Lyles stride for stride. The only concerning factor is Erlin’s last start against Colorado. He only surrendered 3 runs, but was chased from the game after just 4 2/3 innings.
Both lineups have little to go on, as far as experience against the opposing pitcher. The Padres’ starting 9 has compiled only 37 at bats total against Lyles, while the Rockies’ lineup has just 15 against Erlin. The limited experience they have hasn’t been stellar for the Rockies, but the Padres have had some success. The Padres’ hitters are 12 for 37 (.324) while the Rockies are 4 for 15 (.267).
Seth Smith, Will Venable and Yasmani Grandal will all be returning to the lineup tonight. Hopefully one of them will provide a lift to the lineup after last night’s weak hitting performance. The best shot might be former Rockie Smith, a career .298/.369/.566 hitter in Colorado and the Padres’ top hitter in 2014. Batting in the 3 hole tonight, he might be able to give the lineup the power it needs to get some runs on the board.
Lyles’ career numbers suggest that he’ll crack sometime soon. Here’s to hoping tonight is the night. First pitch is scheduled for 5:10 PDT.