Saturday, September 20, 2008

Scouting Report: Padres at Nationals (9/20)

The Friars took game one of the race to the bottom Strasburg Sweepstakes Series in a late-night marathon. That's the bad news (or good news, depending on your rooting interst). The good news (or bad news) is that Jake Peavy is now going to miss the whole series, as he's been scheduled to start next week against the Dodgers. Hooray for the baby! Or... Why'd you have to have the baby now, Mrs. Peavy??

Here's my take on game two
of the Strasburg Sweepstakes Series. For my preview on the Padres' offense, click here.

One correction though. I passed along an inaccurate report that Jody Gerut was out for the year with a broken finger. In fact, it was a sprain, and he pinch-hit last night. Also, I think I probably under-sold the PETCO effect on the Padres' hitters. The park factor at PETCO is .910 (1.000 being exactly neutral). For comparison, RFK was the next most extreme pitcher's park in baseball last year, with a park effect of .946. As a team, their away SLG is .411, and at home they're .369. That's a huge 42 point split, and 42 points in SLG is the difference between Mark Teixeira and Cody Ross. People are thinking this Padres lineup is awful because they are last in MLB in runs scored with 606. And yeah they're not very good. But they're better than we are by a good bit, even though we've scored 615.

Pitching Match-Up
Chris Young: The 29-year-old former Expo-farmhand, traded in 2004 with Josh McKinley to the Texas Rangers for Einar Diaz and Justin Echols, has blossomed into an all-star. (Omar made a bad trade, but it wasn't as bad as when Texas traded Young with Adrian Gonzalez and Terrmel Sledge to San Diego for Adam Eaton, Akinori Otsuka, and Billy Killian.)

Young is a tall, right-handed extreme fly-ball pitcher who benefits enormously from PETCO's pitcher-friendliness. For his career, 53% of his batted balls have been flyballs, which is a huge number, bigger that Bergmann's 47.4%. And last year, when Young made the All-Star Game, his home ERA was 1.69 and his road ERA was 4.52.

He's had a bunch of nagging injuries that have kept him from ever topping 180 IP, and this year he lost a couple months after getting hit in the face by a batted ball.

He throws an 88 mph fastball, slider, change and curve. He gets a decent number of strikeouts (8.36/9), which he needs, given all those flyballs, but he tends to walk too many, especially this year (4.42/9)

This is the kind of game that in July we would have scored 2 runs on 7 singles and 4 walks. With Dukes slugging and Zimmerman stronger, we have a much better chance to take advantage of Young's weaknesses.

John Lannan: Lannan's been wildly inconsistent lately, allowing 5 or more runs in three of his last 8 starts and 2 or less in the other 5. Two of those rough outings came against the tough Cubs and Mets. Last time out, he used his change as an out pitch more effectively than he has before. If that pitch develops, it would really help him maintain his current level of performance or even take the next step. Right now his curveball is his best out pitch, but it's always good to have a plan B if you lose command of one pitch.

One thing to remember with him is that he has a reverse platoon split, meaning lefties hit him better than righties. Most of the Padres' best hitters--Gonzalez, Giles, Headley, Gerut--are all lefties or switch-hitters.

Fearless Prediction
Season Record: 30-19
I expect Lannan to pitch ok but the bullpen will be exposed after last night's marathon. Young too will be ok, not great. Bottom line, I think the pitching is pretty even, but the Padres' lineup is better.

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