San Diego Padres: Series preview: Giants vs. Padres

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 30: Hector Sanchez
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 30: Hector Sanchez /

Taking a look at the pitching matchups for this weekend’s series at Petco Park featuring the San Diego Padres and the San Francisco Giants.

The San Diego Padres return from the All-Star break with a little bit of momentum. Very quietly, the club has triumphed in five of their last seven contests, six of which took place away from Petco Park.

Now, at 38-50, San Diego has a lot more work to do to become relevant again. Fortunately, their first series of the season’s second half is against the cellar dwelling San Francisco Giants. Even better, the weekend set will be played in the friendly confines of Petco Park, where the Padres have played .500 baseball.

Even though the Giants are horrible, they have some pitching that the Friars will need to deal with. The following is a breakdown of this weekend’s matchups.

Friday, 7:10 PM: Cueto vs. Richard

Friday night’s series opener features San Diego’s most reliable starter in Clayton Richard, and a pitcher who has declined at a shockingly rapid rate. Johnny Cueto started the All-Star game last season for the National League in San Diego. This season, he is 6-7 in 18 starts with a 4.51 ERA.

Nevertheless, Cueto is not a pitcher to take lightly. Even in the midst of a season filled with issues, the right-hander has shown flashes of brilliance. His offspeed pitches are dangerous, underscoring the significance of avoiding two strike counts. Still, the Padres can chase Cueto early if they bring the same focus offensively as they did the first two games last weekend in Philadelphia.

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Saturday, 5:40 PM: Bumgarner vs. Chacin

Saturday presents the Padres with a whole new challenge. Against four time All-Star and World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner, the lineup won’t know exactly what to expect. Saturday will mark the 27-year-old’s return from the 60-day disabled list. In 2017 he has just four starts totaling 27 innings, not an adequate sample size to get any sort of indication of how he will perform.

Jhoulys Chacin will oppose Bumgarner, the offseason acquisition who has had a rocky first year with the Padres. The good news is, Chacin has pitched well against this lineup this season.

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The good news is, the Giants won’t let Bumgarner pitch as deep into the game even if he is successful. This virtually guarantees the Padres a few innings against a weak San Francisco bullpen, and makes some late inning magic quite possible if necessary.

Fans would love to see the Friars clinch the series in Saturday’s contest, and set up an opportunity for a sweep on Sunday.

Sunday, 1:40 PM: Samardzija vs. Cahill

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The series finale will feature Trevor Cahill and Jeff Samardzija, an intriguing matchup. Cahill is making his third start back from the disabled list, with his first two serving as a microcosm of his up and down 2017.

Samardzija is a talented veteran with a high IQ, but one which has taken a lot of the brunt of the Giants’ struggles this season. In 118 innings spanning 18 starts, the 32-year-old’s ERA is slightly elevated at 4.58, but still respectable. Unfortunately for him, a combination of lack of run support and untimely lapses has yielded him the most losses in the league, and one of the worst records at 4-10.

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The Padres will need Cahill and their bullpen to have one of their better games in this one, and will hope that the sad reality that is the Giants 2017 season will continue this weekend exactly how it has been going.