Since last year I keep thinking the Padres are better than most people give them credit for. Thus far I've been proven mostly wrong. Their main problem is that they're an unbalanced team. They're pitching is actually pretty solid. It currently ranks 5th in all of baseball, right behind the Brewers, by fWAR. The problem is their offense lags behind quite significantly. As a team they have an 80 wRC+ which is tied for 26th worst in baseball. For reference, the Brewers currently possess a 99 wRC+ which ranks 16th. The Padres have the 7th highest strikeout rate and 4th lowest walk rate. Hopefully that will benefit Brewers pitching.
Wily Peralta has been pretty decent so far this season. His 17.3% strikeout rate is up from last year's 16.1% which is encouraging. Also encouraging is that his walk rate is down from 9.1% last to 6.7% this year. Hopefully those numbers are a sign of things to come.
Andrew Cashner is awesome. Sorry, I know he's the opposing pitcher, but I kind of love him. He's basically what I think Wily Peralta could be if his strikeout numbers jumped. Cashner throws in the mid to high-90s, currently averaging 93.5 mph (Peralta throws harder), and he induces lots of ground balls. In fact, he's currently sporting a 60.8% ground ball rate. Yikes! He's also adept at getting strikeouts. Last year he had an 18.7% strikeout rate and so far this year it's at 24.3%. Yikes again. I won't lie, this looks like a tough outing for the Brewers offense.
Tuesday, April 22 7:10 PM CT: Yovani Gallardo vs Ian Kennedy
Last time I wrote about Gallardo abandoning his previous strikeout model and adopting a new pitch to contact, ground ball approach. So, of course, Gallardo struck out 6 in 6 innings and induced only a 26.7% ground ball rate. I think this is less a reemergence of his strikeout ways and more a random event. Though I do think we can expect a solid amount of strikeouts again because of the Padres offensive profile.
Ian Kennedy's 4.13 ERA looks deceptive to me. He's had a 24% strikeout rate and 5.9% walk rate so far this season. He's not giving up a lot of home runs either with a 0.38 HR/9. His batting average against is .220, his WHIP is 1.04, and his BABIP is .284. Seriously, how did he give up so many runs? Nothing jumps out at me so I have to assume he's been supremely unlucky. Hopefully that bad luck stays with him and the Brewers win 1-0 off a pinch hit home run from Jeff Bianchi.
Kyle Lohse had another solid outing last time around when he faced the Pirates. They did put up 3 runs against him, but 2 were unearned. He struck out 5 in 6.1 innings pitched which is solid. I wouldn't be surprised to see his new found (and likely temporary) ability to get strikeouts, sticks around for this game. Unless something wacky happens I expect another strong outing.
Tyson Ross is another guy that has a great strikeout rate. His current 23.4% strikeout rate is almost identical to his 23.6% from last year so we know it's not a fluke. He does have an issue with walking people. His current 10.3% rate is a few ticks higher than last year's 8.7%. Still, the Brewers have the lowest walk rate in baseball so I'm not expecting this to be an issue
I still think the Padres are better than most people give them credit for. I also think the Brewers are the better team, but damn if the Padre's pitching staff this series doesn't look sexy. Runs might be few and far between this entire series for both teams. I'm going to guess the Brewers take 2 out of 3 with tonight's match-up being the toughest.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs