Getting the ball in the rubber match for the Padres will be Tyson Ross (8-10, 2.70 ERA). Tonight Ross will try to build off his previous start, where he allowed just 4 hits in 7 shutout innings against the Mets in his first start after the break. It wasn’t any surprise Ross was so dominant in that start as he has been arguably the best pitcher in the National League this month. He has posted the lowest ERA, 10th highest strikeout rate, and 2nd highest fWAR in the NL among qualified pitchers in July. With yet another dominant performance tonight, Ross could help cement himself as the clear leader for NL Pitcher of the Month.
The unfortunate soul tasked with facing the white hot Ross will be Edwin Jackson (5-10, 5.61 ERA). The righty will be looking for his first win since June 20th tonight. In his 5 starts since his last victory, Jackson has gone 0-3 with 7.18 ERA, while averaging 3.4 strikeouts and just under 5 1/3 innings per start. In short, it’s been a rough stretch for Jackson, but he may have showed signs that he’s bucking the bad trend in his last start. Arguably the biggest issue Jackson has had over this rough patch has been walks. In the first 4 starts since June 20th, Jackson issued 4 free passes in 3 of them, something he had done only 3 times in his first 15 starts of 2014, and a pair in the other, but his last time out against the Diamondbacks he was able to escape without allowing any walks. Maybe he’s started to turn the corner, and the Padres’ feeble offense may help him complete the full 180.
But how feeble is the offense actually? Since the All-Star Break as a team, the Padres are hitting .241/.321/.370 which puts them in the middle of the pack in the league in all 3 categories. Middle of the pack isn’t a sexy place to be, but based on where the team was before the break, this is a remarkable improvement even if it is just 5 games. With a pitching staff as dominant as the Padres, mediocre hitting will usually be enough to get the job done.
In Bud Black‘s lineup tonight Alexi Amarista will be getting just his third crack at the lead-off spot in 2014. It’s not a spot that he’s taken well to over his career, hitting just .217 in 27 career starts at the top of the lineup card. One notable omission from the lineup card is recently called up Jeff Francoeur. Frenchy had a solid night last night in his big league return, but Black opted to give Jake Goebbert a rare cameo in his natural position of left field. With Goebbert in left and Tommy Medica getting the night off, it opens up first base for Yasmani Grandal, so that he can get a break from being behind the dish and still stay in the lineup.
First pitch is at 5:05.