Series Preview: Padres at Phillies

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One of MLB’s most disappointing teams of the 2015 season, the San Diego Padres (62-65), come to town for a 3-game weekend series with the Phillies (50-78) at Citizens Bank Park beginning tonight at 7:05pm.

The Padres loaded up with new acquisitions via trade and free agency during the off-season and at the outset of 2015, including outfielders Justin Upton, Melvin Upton, Wil Myers, and Matt Kemp, catcher Derek Norris, starting pitcher James Shields, and closer Craig Kimbrel.

More from That Balls Outta Here

Instead, partially due to injuries, partially to a chemistry mix that just doesn’t seem to work, the Friars once again find themselves in also-ran status as the season approaches its final month. They currently sit in a tie with Arizona for 3rd place in the NL West, 8.5 behind the first-place Dodgers and 11.5 back of an NL Wildcard berth.

Justin Upton has mostly done his part, making his 3rd All-Star team while leading the club with 22 homers, 68 runs scored, and 18 stolen bases. Kemp leads the team with 78 RBI, but has a disappointing 15 home runs, and now at age 30 it has become fairly obvious that he will never again reach near-MVP level production of a few years ago.

On the mound, Shields and Kimbrel have also been everything the Padres hoped. Shields has made 27 starts, leads the club with both 164.1 innings pitched and 176 strikeouts, and is tied for the club lead with 9 wins. Kimbrel has been his typically dominant self at the end of games, registering 36 Saves, allowing just 34 hits in 50 innings, with a 68-18 K:BB ratio.

So what’s been the problem? For one, the team has just a collective .244 batting average and .299 on-base percentage, and they have just 69 steals. They don’t generate enough offense from game-to-game, and they don’t put much pressure on the opposition pitchers or defense on a consistent basis.

The Phillies shouldn’t take too much consolation from this, since they have baseball’s worst record, and have earned every bit of it. They are coming off an embarrassing 4-game sweep at home at the hands of the division-rival New York Mets, who showed the Phils just how far they have to travel in their burgeoning rebuilding program.

One interesting sidebar to this series could involve trade rumors as the MLB waiver deadline comes on Monday. As discussed here at TBOH yesterday, the Phillies have some options. For the Padres, it is already known that Shields has successfully passed through waivers. The outcome of these games may determine whether he is actually moved.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Ian Kennedy (8-11, 4.01 ERA) vs Aaron Nola (4-1, 3.59 ERA) – with the exception of one great 2011 season in Arizona, Kennedy is typically an innings-eating, .500-level, 4.00 ERA starting pitcher. That is pretty much what he has been once again with the Padres in 2015. He has gone at least 6 innings in 2/3 of his starts since May 1st, so odds are that he at least keeps his team in the game. Nola, despite being a rookie with just 7 MLB starts under his belt, is the top starter in the Phils’ rotation. The 22-year old is coming off the best outing of his young career, an 8-inning, 3-hitter in Miami last Sunday.

Colin Rea (2-1, 5.52 ERA) vs Adam Morgan (4-4, 4.43 ERA) – this one will be a battle of two rookies. The 24-year old Rea is making just his 4th career start. His first two were promising, but in his most recent outing the Saint Louis Cardinals roughed him up in the 1st inning. A walk and an error seemed to unnerve him, and he proceeded to give up 3 hits and 4 runs in the frame. It wasn’t unlike the 1st inning experienced by the Phils’ Jerad Eickhoff the other night, and like that Phillies rookie, Rea settled down well afterwards. Morgan followed one of his best starts of the year vs Toronto with one of his worst vs the Mets. He’s been hot and cold, and it’s anyone’s guess which version of the 25-year old lefty will show up in red pinstripes on Saturday.

James Shields (9-6, 3.89 ERA) vs Jerome Williams (4-10, 6.13 ERA) – assuming he lasts this long with the team, Sunday could prove to be one final audition for Shields, who has cleared waivers and could be dealt away. If the Padres come out of this weekend within a half-dozen of the division lead, maybe they hang with him. If the Phillies take a couple, his chances of being traded increase. He is coming off one of only 2-3 poor outings all season on Tuesday vs Washington. For the Phils, the man nicknamed ‘Pink Puka’ has been more like ‘Pink Putrid’ most of the season. In his last two starts, Williams has allowed 12 earned runs on 13 hits, including 3 homers, while walking 6 batters in just 7 innings. Ugh-ly. LATE CHANGE: the Phils announced on Friday afternoon that Williams  will move to the pen, and this start will be made by rookie callup Alec Asher, another arm obtained in the Hamels deal.

SERIES KEYS

Quality Starts: unless he lays a rare egg, Nola has an excellent chance to provide the 6 innings pitched while allowing 3 earned runs or less for the Phillies rotation that are needed in order to qualify as a QS. Getting those in 2 of the 3 outings this weekend, at least, would go a long way towards securing a series victory.

MIF Production: both Cesar Hernandez (2B) and Freddy Galvis (SS) have had their moments, and had good stretches, during the 2015 season. But frankly, neither is a true offensive force, and neither is likely to be around in a starting role the next time that the Phillies contend. But for now, this weekend, they need some hits. Hernandez has hit .151 with just 2 RBI and 4 runs scored over his last dozen games. Galvis went 1-14 in the final three games vs the Mets.

BROADCAST SCHEDULE

Friday, August 28vs. San Diego7:05 PMCSN1210 WPHT, 94 WIP, WTTM 1680 (Sp.)
Saturday, August 29vs. San Diego7:05 PMCSN1210 WPHT, WTTM 1680 (Sp.), 98.1 WOGL
Sunday, August 30vs. San Diego1:35 PMCSN1210 WPHT, 94 WIP, WTTM 1680 (Sp.)

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE forecast for Citizens Bank Park in South Philly

Tonight

Mostly clear, with a low around 64. Light and variable wind.

Saturday

Sunny, with a high near 87. Southwest wind 3 to 7 mph.

Saturday Night

Partly cloudy, with a low around 70. South wind 3 to 8 mph.

Sunday

Partly sunny, with a high near 90. Southwest wind 5 to 8 mph.


INJURIES / DISABLED LIST

PADRESUpdatedStatusDue BackInjuryNotes
Johnson, Josh (P)08/2760-day DLTBDRecovering from April 2014 Tommy John surgeryThrew bullpen session Aug. 18; threw simulated game Aug. 27.
Kemp, Matt (LF)08/27Any dayDay-to-dayLeft shoulder sorenessNot in starting lineup Aug. 27.
Luebke, Cory (P)08/2560-day DLTBDRecovering from July 2015 elbow surgeryUnderwent surgery, was shut down from throwing for at least three weeks as of July 17 update.
Mateo, Marcos (P)08/2715-day DLPossibly late AugustNeck strainSent on Triple-A rehab assignment Aug. 27; placed on 15-day DL on Aug. 8 retroactive to Aug. 6.
Maurer, Brandon (P)08/1115-day DLTBDRight shoulder inflammationPlaced on 15-day DL on Aug. 11 retroactive to Aug. 10.
Morrow, Brandon (P)08/21Out for Season2016Recovering from August 2015 right shoulder surgeryUnderwent season-ending surgery Aug. 19.
Myers, Wil (RF)08/2660-day DLPossibly SeptemberRecovering from June 2015 left wrist surgeryTook 40 swings at normal intensity in indoor cage on Aug. 26.

PHILLIESUpdatedStatusDue BackInjuryNotes
Araujo, Elvis (P)08/27Any dayTBDUndisclosedExited game early Aug. 27.
Billingsley, Chad (P)08/1615-day DLTBDRight flexor strainWas scheduled to have elbow re-examined week of Aug. 10.
Franco, Maikel (3B)08/2215-day DLPossibly late SeptemberFractured left wristPlaced on 15-day DL on Aug. 18 retroactive to Aug. 12.
Hollands, Mario (P)04/20Out for Season2016Recovering from April 2015 Tommy John surgeryUnderwent Tommy John surgery April 8.
Lee, Cliff (P)04/0560-day DLPossibly 2015Left common flexor tendon tearShut down from throwing, placed on 60-day DL on March 16.
Pettibone, Jonathan (P)08/08Out for Season2016Recovering from July 2015 shoulder surgeryUnderwent season-ending surgery July 22.
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