Mar 31, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Chicago Cubs manager Rick Renteria high fives his team prior to the first inning of an opening day baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
After losing the first two games of the home stand against the Minnesota Twins, the Padres welcome the Chicago Cubs to town for a four-game series. Cubs’ Manager Rick Renteria spent six seasons on Bud Black’s coaching staff. This will be his first visit to his old stomping grounds since being named the Cubs’ manager during the most recent off-season. Renteria downplayed the homecoming narrative telling MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat that “For me, it’s just another road trip.” Renteria will send Jake Arrieta (0-0, 2.70 ERA) to the mound to face Eric Stults (2-4, 4.50).
Stults will be tasked with helping ending San Diego’s 3-game losing streak. The soft-tossing Stults will need to have his command tonight as he faces the Cubs’ lineup. Many of Chicago’s hitters have faced Stults in the past with varying levels of success. Darwin Barney leads the way batting 5-for-10 with 4 doubles and a home run for a lifetime 1.783 OPS against Stults. Cubs’ catcher Welington Castillo is 3-for-5 with a strikeout, and shortstop Starlin Castro is 3-for-11 for a career batting average of .273 lifetime against Stults. Fortunately, Stults is coming off great start in Colorado in which he pitched 6 2/3 innings of 1-run ball, proving that soft tossing lefties can have success in the Mile High City.
In contrast, not many of the Padres’ hitters have faced Arrieta, as he spent the beginning of his career in the American League with Baltimore. With Carlos Quentin likely still out with a sprained hamstring, Seth Smith and Nick Hundley have faced Arrieta the most, both with only 2 plate appearances against the righty. Will Venable has had the most success batting lifetime 1-for-1 against Arrieta, however that hit was a three-run home run.
The Padres (21-26) are currently 5 games below .500; however their next seven games will be played against teams with worse records, the Cubs (16-28) and the Arizona Diamondbacks (18-30). If the Padres play it right, they can find their way back to at least .500 in time for Quentin to return healthy.
Keep the Faith.