Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
This road trip has gotten off to a rocky start for the Padres. First they were swept in Philly, and last night they dropped the first game of the series against the Mets. Maybe today’s early start will help awake the Friar bats and help lead the Padres to a win.
Jesse Hahn (0-1, 9.82 ERA) will be making his second professional start this afternoon. The young prospect’s first start on July 3rd against the Pirates left a lot to be desired though. He failed to make it out of the 4th inning, after allowing 4 runs thanks to 2 home runs. Now 11 days later he gets a chance to show the Padre fans that he can be a reliable option, but this time he’ll have to do it away from the friendly confines of Petco Park. He may have been able to shake off the nerves of pitching in the majors for the first time, but pitching on the road for the first time could prove to be a mental challenge yet again.
Opposing him will be another 24-year-old, Zack Wheeler (2-6, 4.19 ERA). Despite being 10 months younger than Hahn, Wheeler has already started to build himself a resume with 29 more starts than Hahn already. Their age is not their only similarity though. Their previous starts were almost spitting images of one another. 3 2/3 innings 4 runs 6 hits and 2 walks. The only difference was Wheeler faced one the best teams in baseball, the Giants, while Hahn faced the struggling Pirates. Overall this season has not been quite as good for Wheeler as expected. Fans likely thought he’d improve on his 3.42 ERA not regress to 4.19, but in reality he has gotten better, but just less lucky. His xFIP has dropped from 4.21 in 2013 to 3.38 this season and has also nearly doubled his fWAR in 4 fewer starts. The Padres feeble offense should help show how good Wheeler truly is and that does not bode well for the Padres.
Bud Black could look to Rene Rivera and Will Venable to try to help break out of this offensive rut. In the midst of the struggles of the past week, the two have performed rather well. They both lead the team in wOBA in the last 7 days. Venable’s .366 would put him 15th in the National League if he had posted it for the season rather than the past week, while Rivera’s .359 would put him at 20th. If the two of them could stay hot the Padres might have a chance today.
Happy Flag Day and Keep the Faith.