Series Preview: San Diego Padres at Arizona Diamondbacks
After a great three-game win streak to end their 10-game eastern road trip, the Diamondbacks are back in town to start a brief six-game homestand. First up will be the San Diego Padres, a team that currently stands in last place in the NL West, one game back behind the Dodgers and 11 games below .500 overall.
Just like last season, the Padres lack of offense has been their biggest issue.
The Padres are currently tied for 27th in batting average, 30th in home runs and 24th in runs scored. San Diego’s lone double digit home run guy, Ryan Ludwick, is now in Pittsburgh. This team gets it done with small ball and stealing bases, where they first in all of baseball. Miguel Montero must be ready for a busy weekend.
Despite their struggles, their have been a few bright spots on offense for the Pads. Long time minor leaguer Jesus Guzman has been excellent for the Pads down at first. In 160 at-bats, the 27-year-old is hitting .331 with five homers and 34 RBIs. He isn’t exactly Adrian Gonzalez, but he has done a real nice job in the playing time that he has got.
Chase Headley and Cameron Maybin have been solid as well. Headley, who is currently on the disabled list because of a fractured pinkie finger, was hitting .292 before he got hurt. That was well above his career .269 average. Maybin, who was never given a fair shot with the Marlins, has really blossomed in his first full year of playing in the majors hitting .278 with 32 stolen bases.
Pitching still remains the Padres biggest strength. Their 3.40 ERA on the season is good for fourth best in all of baseball. Their stuff doesn’t feature a lot of big time names, but mostly everyone that goes out there on a nightly basis will get the job done, whether they are in the rotation or coming out of the bullpen.
The bullpen is still one of the best units in the game, despite setup man Mike Adams now in Texas. Pads fans can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that Heath Bell will remain in San Diego for at least the remainder of the 2011 season. The Giants put a claim on him when he was placed on waivers, but the two sides were unable to get a deal done.
Arizona will face Wade LeBlanc, Aaron Harang and Cory Luebke in this series. LeBlanc is clearly having the worst season of the three with his ERA well in the four’s in seven starts. Harang has seen a career resurgence in San Diego after struggling the last couple of seasons in Cincinnati posting 12 wins and having an ERA under four.
Luebke is the youngest of the three, but yet probably has the best overall stuff. He does have a losing record on the year, a clear testament to the Padres lack of run support, but he features a 2.96 ERA and 112 strikeouts in only 105.1 innings thrown. The young left-hander also has allowed two runs or less in each of his past four starts.
With the Padres out of the playoff picture, nothing would be sweeter to them then ruining the Diamondbacks playoff chances. They played the Giants tough during the middle of the week and expect more of the same in this weekend set in Phoenix.