The Padres kick off a nine game homestand tonight at 7:40 pm against the Arizona Diamondbacks. During this homestand they will face a heavily improved Arizona club, a St. Louis Cardinals team that had the best record in baseball last year and the Pittsburgh Pirates, who were a wild card team last year. In the opening series we can look forward to some strong pitching matchups as Zack Greinke, he of the $206.5M contract, faces off against James Shields tonight. Saturday at 5:40 PM PST Shelby Miller will take the hill against Andrew Cashner. The series will close out Sunday with Patrick Corbin making the start for the Diamondbacks and Robbie Erlin toeing the rubber for the Friars.
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The Padres expected starting lineup has not seen much success against Greinke as only two of the expected starters tonight have experienced any success against him. Jon Jay and Derek Norris hit him for a .320 and.308 BA, respectively, but collectively the starting lineup has 102 career ABs against Greinke with 3 total RBIs. None of the Arizona starting regulars have more than 9 Abs against Shields. Shields looks to take advantage of such a late start, due to pregame festivities honoring the legendary Jackie Robinson, and with temperatures expected to be in the low 60s on the coast, the thicker marine air will hopefully help Shields reign in his penchant for giving up the long ball tonight. In his last start against Colorado Shields was victimized by the long ball as he gave up only six hits over seven strong IP, but three of the hits left the yard.
Saturday is Padres hat night and the Padres look to make it a fun one as Shelby Miller takes the mound for the Diamondbacks. Miller has an ERA of 8.18 on the year and has allowed a ghastly .294 BABIP (Batting Average on balls in play) this year. Couple that and expected temps in the low 80s at game time tomorrow, along with his low strikeout total so far this year, only 8 in 11 IP, and the Padres will look for a good deal of success against Miller. There is not much historical data for them as the Padres expected lineup has an aggregate 20 ABs against Miller. Cashner looks to avoid trouble against Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb, who are both hitting over .304 against him in their careers and have gone yard against him once each. Cashner has been victimized by an absurd .429 BABIP this year. The Diamondbacks of 2016, as a team, are striking out at a ghastly high 22.5 K% rate, but only 8.1 times per game, good for 13 best in the bigs somehow. The Padres are the 5th worst at 9.7 Ks per game as batters. To put that in perspective, Adam Dunn, who never struck out LESS than 159 times in a full season, had a career 28.6 K% rate.
Sunday is military appreciation day as the Marine recruits should be in their usual place in the right field upper deck. Patrick Corbin takes the hill for the Diamondbacks again. He has a 3.46 ERA this year and while he doesn’t strike anybody out, he has also only issued one walk this year in 13 IP. Only Matt Kemp and Alexi Amarista have faced Corbin in the past, so there is no real history to draw on for him. Corbin only averages 91.6 MPH on his fastball, so some offense could be in the making here if the Padres can hang back and lay off his deadly slider. Erlin is coming off a terrific outing against the Phillies in which he went six IP and gave up only 3 hits. He has limited experience against the Diamondbacks, but the team is a combined 1 for 18 in their careers against Erlin. This might be Erlin’s last chance to make a case for his inclusion in the rotation as Tyson Ross is expected back for his next start on the 20th, possibly pushing Erlin, Rea or Pomeranz to the bullpen or AAA Tuscon.