San Diego Padres: Three Things To Watch In San Francisco Giants Series

DENVER, CO - APRIL 10: Hunter Renfroe
DENVER, CO - APRIL 10: Hunter Renfroe /

The San Diego Padres continue their tour of the National League West with a three-game set against the San Francisco Giants. Here are three big storylines to watch for in this divisional series.

So, who had fun yesterday? Despite falling to the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday afternoon, the San Diego Padres left Coors Field with their first series win of 2018. The Friars now return to Petco Park for a four-game set against the San Francisco Giants without a number of key contributors, but high on emotion after a little team bonding.

By the time May 6th rolls around, the San Diego Padres will have played 26 games against NL West foes. Yes, it’s early, but if the Padres want to make noise in the division, these 26 games mean a lot. Seven games into this stretch, the Friars find themselves at 3-4, all against the Colorado Rockies.

A 3-4 start against a 2017 playoff team is respectable for this young squad. Now, the veteran-laden San Francisco Giants come to town. Here’s what to watch for over the next four days.

Can the San Diego Padres take advantage of an ailing pitching staff?

The injury bug has bitten the Giants, hard. Jeff Samardzija, Madison Bumgarner, and now Johnny Cueto all find themselves on the disabled list. Rookies Tyler Beede and Andrew Suarez were called up to the big leagues, forcing the highly touted prospects to make their major league debuts a little earlier than expected.

The Padres will face Chris Stratton (9 HA, 4 BB in 10 IP), Ty Blach (10 H/9, 4.7 BB/9), Derek Holland (0-2, 4.09 ERA), and Beede (5 BB in 4 IP, ML debut) in this series.

Giants’ starting pitchers had given up zero home runs before yesterday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks (two off Suarez), but they have given up a high number of hits and walks. Padres’ hitters have the perfect opportunity to finally find their groove and break out of this slow start to the season.

Over his last six games, first baseman Eric Hosmer has multiple hits in five of them. He also recorded his first home run of the season on Wednesday. Chalk it up to the thin Colorado air if you want, but Hosmer deposited his first home run as a Padre 439 feet from home plate off Jake McGee.

Hosmer enters this weekend’s series hitting .394 over his last seven games, while Jose Pirela enters with a .344 average over the last week. If San Diego plans on taking a second straight divisional series, they will need continued production from two of their best hitters.

Can Buster Posey be stopped?

The veteran catcher has shown zero signs of slowing down in his age-31 season for the Giants. His walk and strikeout rate are an identical 9.8% through his first 11 games of the season. Posey is also sporting a 193 wRC+, a .452 wOBA, and a .222 ISO.

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Posey is hitting the ball very hard up to this point, 45% of his hits have been hard-contact, however, his groundball rate is up. We haven’t reached the stabilizing point for statistics yet, but Padres’ pitchers need to take advantage of Posey’s 13% infield-hit rate if they want to slow him down.

Working the outer portions of the strike zone will also be crucial for San Diego pitchers. Posey is making contact on 100% of pitches within the strike zone that he swings at, versus 64% of pitches outside of the strike zone.

With that in mind, take a deep breath when Bryan Mitchell faces off against Buster Posey.

How will Joey Lucchesi handle a veteran lineup?

No lineup in Major League Baseball is easy to handle, however, the San Francisco Giants have one of the more experienced lineups, from top to bottom. This will be the biggest test of the very young season for everyone’s newest favorite pitcher, Joey Lucchesi.

We featured this piece after Lucchesi’s last start, highlighting his positive attitude and body language out on the mound despite struggling at the end of his start. He will need that composure when he faces a lineup featuring Andrew McCutchen, Evan Longoria, Posey, Hunter Pence, and pesky veterans like Austin Jackson, Brandon Belt, and Joe Panik.

More than 21% of all balls put in play against Lucchesi have been soft-contact hits and he’s producing a 13.3% swing and miss rate through his first three starts. The rookie is getting a quick introduction to the NL West, let’s hope he keeps impressing.

Next: Padres Brawl The Rockies

Bryan Mitchell will throw tonight’s first pitch at 7 pm PT. It is the first time Mitchell has faced the Giants in his career. The Padres will face off against Chris Stratton who is 1-1 with a 6.43 ERA against the Friars.