San Diego Padres: Series Preview: Padres vs. Giants

Sep 24, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Clayton Richard (27) lays down a sacrifice bunt to move the runner over during the second inning in front of San Francisco Giants catcher Trevor Brown (14) at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Clayton Richard (27) lays down a sacrifice bunt to move the runner over during the second inning in front of San Francisco Giants catcher Trevor Brown (14) at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

The San Diego Padres play their first game at Petco Park on Friday, the first of an important early three game set against division rival San Francisco.

Slowly but surely, the return of baseball for the 2017 regular season has come. Reeling San Diego fans have counted down to the beginning of spring training, the beginning of the regular season, and now the opening game at Petco Park. With the loss of the Chargers, the young and exciting Padres are the only team in town.

The home schedule for the San Diego Padres begins Friday afternoon, as the San Francisco Giants travel down to Petco Park. The three game series will span the entire weekend, and feature several intriguing pitching matchups.

Fans should be out in full force on Friday, coming out to support their Padres against a division rival in the home opener. Large crowds are expected throughout the weekend, but Friday’s game will especially excite fans, being the first at the home park with this particular young group which the organization hopes will become a core of players for the future.

Taking a quick look at the pitching matchups this weekend, fans should feel optimistic about San Diego’s chances to take two out of three. Still, against an opponent like the Giants, not even avoiding a sweep will come easily.

Friday, 3:40 PM: Perdomo vs. Cain

San Diego begins their home schedule by sending 23-year-old Luis Perdomo to the mound, the club’s fifth starter. One of the major surprises coming out of camp was the fact that Perdomo would make the rotation, as even though he was clearly in the mix, starters such as Christian Friedrich and Jarred Cosart appeared to have stronger springs. Still, Perdomo brings a lot of promise to the rotation. The only question is whether or not this will be evident immediately.

The 1-3 Giants will start Matt Cain, a veteran who has started 308 career games, all with San Francisco. Cain has declined statistically over the past several seasons, but the Giants are hoping that a clean slate in 2017 and a fifth starting role will alleviate some of the pressure and allow the 2002 first round pick to turn in a productive season.

The Padres don’t seem to have the upper hand in this one based on the starting pitchers, a credit to San Francisco’s deep rotation. Still, with the excitement of a new season at Petco Park carrying the young club, and a large crowd waiting for the offense to explode, Friday’s game is one the club can steal from a superior Giants squad.

Saturday: Chacin vs. Bumgarner

It is back to the Opening Day starters for Saturday’s matchup, which means that Jhoulys Chacin will have his opportunity to redeem himself from a catastrophic first start. As of now, Chacin’s 24.30 ERA is about as ugly as it gets, but the offseason acquisition has still inherited the title of “ace”, and will get the nod for the late afternoon start in the middle game of this series.

The Giants will send Madison Bumgarner to the mound Saturday, his second start of 2017. The future Hall of Fame southpaw pitched a no decision in an Opening Day loss, but is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with, and a tricky pitcher the Padres will never be able to solve easily.

Saturday’s odd start time shouldn’t keep fans away, and the Padres will hope to be going for a series victory. If Chacin gets back on track, which seems likely after surrendering nine earned runs in just three and a third on Monday, San Diego will have a good chance, even against Bumgarner.

Sunday: Richard vs. Cueto

The Padres will have Clayton Richard take the mound once again for the series finale on Sunday, the starter they are likely most comfortable with. Coming off of an eight shutout inning performance against a potent Dodger lineup, expectations are high. But all the Padres should need is a similar performance from the 33-year-old left-hander.

The Giants will counter Richard with Johnny Cueto, an inconsistent but often effective hard throwing right-hander. In his first start, the Giants earned their only win of the season. However, Cueto’s five innings were shaky at best, as he surrendered four earned runs. If the Padres can hit the fastball early and force Cueto out of the middle of the zone, they could have a lot of success against him and get into the bullpen early.

Sunday’s pitching matchup looks to be the most favorable for the Padres this weekend. Hopefully, the club will still be in a position to take the series, and they will do so against their division rivals.

The Padres will have their hands full this weekend against a talented Giants club. But with the Giants dropping three of four to open the season down in Arizona, there is hope that the Padres can capitalize on a poor start San Francisco is having. On the other hand, their difficult first series will have the Giants hungry for a series win coming into San Diego, a dangerous thought.

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San Diego will need offense to win, but depth from their starting pitching is essential. Too much pressure on a bullpen which has already been taxed in the first four game set could prove costly for the Padres, especially if games are close.

Most of all, San Diego is ready to win. Beginning the season 1-3 is not the end of the world, but a 1-6 start would make circumstances appear much more bleak. It is critical that the Padres get in the win column this weekend, and preferably take the series. The momentum that this would bring would contribute greatly to the organization’s rebuilding process, and instill a much needed degree of confidence in the young players who currently compose the starting lineup.

Next: Why Isn’t Richard the Ace?

Friday afternoon’s game can be seen outside of the San Diego market on MLB Network, and in the market on Fox Sports San Diego. First pitch is scheduled for 3:40 PM PT. Saturday and Sunday, games can also be seen on FSSD, and begin at 5:40 PM PT and 1:40 PM PT, respectively.