If it feels like the Braves and Padres have already played quite a bit this year, your feelings are correct. Because of an unbalanced schedule, each National League team plays one opponent from a different division one extra time a year. If just so happened Atlanta and San Diego got matched up for what will be their third series this year. Lets take a look at the 32-44 Padres.
The Padres are pretty awful offensively, though playing in spacious Petco Park doesn't do their lineup any favors. Chase Headley (.295/.389/.402, 133 wRC+) has been their best offensive player and guys like Ryan Ludwick (.256/.325/.393, 107 wRC+), Cameron Maybin (.251/.319/.391, 109 wRC+), Chris Denorfia (.295/.347/.443, 122 wRC+) have all had solid seasons for San Diego.
Rookie first baseman Anthony Rizzo (.158/.347/.387, 115 wRC+), who came over from Boston in the Adrian Gonzalez trade, has had a few big games since being called up from Triple-A Tucson is already a fan favorite. Center fielder Will Venable (.235/.304/.314, 86 wRC+) isn't having a good season, but he always seems to punish the Braves whenever the two clubs meet up. Shortstop Jason Bartlett (.253/.322/.317, 91 wRC+) isn't much of a hitter and Orlando Hudson (.246/.353/.323, 105 wRC+) has slowed considerably as he gets up there in age.
All-in-all, the Padres won't score a ton of runs, but they do steal quite a few bases and are capable of hanging a crooked number or two on the scoreboard if you give them opportunities.
Friday, 10:10EDT - Derek Lowe Vs. Tim Stauffer (SportSouth)
|2011 - Derek Lowe||3-5||16||16||0||0||0||0||90.0||88||42||41||7||33||68||4.10||1.34|
|2011 - Tim Stauffer||2-5||15||15||0||0||0||0||92.0||93||34||32||6||23||73||3.13||1.26
Derek Lowe will be pitching on an extra day of rest (as will all of our starters this weekend), so it'll be interesting to see if he's sharp in the first few innings as he gets adjusted on the mound. Tim Stauffer, his counterpart, has had a nice 2011 despite recording just two wins. His FIP and xFIP (3.14, 3.17) are nearly identical to his ERA and he'd likely have a few more wins if his team would just score a few more runs while he's in the game. Stauffer works off his fastball that sits right around 90 mph and throws a cutter as well. His curveball is his out-pitch, and he'll throw an occasional changeup.
Saturday, 8:35EDT - Jair Jurrjens Vs. Dustin Moseley (SportSouth)
|2011 - Jair Jurrjens||9-3||13||13||1||0||0||0||89.2||84||23||21||4||18||53||2.11||1.14|
|2011 - Dustin Moseley||2-6||14||14||0||0||0||0||83.1||81||35||28||7||23||40||3.02||1.25|
Dustin Moseley, similar to Tim Stauffer, is another pitcher having a fine, under-the-radar year. The 29-year old righty is a bit of a soft tosser, and he relies heavily on getting hitters to get themselves out by swinging at pitches off the plate. Moseley features four pitchers and throws a fastball in the high-80's, cutter in the mid-80's, solid curveball and decent changeup. He allowed three runs in six innings against the Braves on May 25th.
Sunday, 4:05EDT - Tim Hudson Vs. Cory Luebke (Fox Sports South)
|2011 - Tim Hudson||6-6||15||15||1||1||0||0||94.0||81||46||39||6||21||62||3.73||1.09|
|2011 - Cory Luebke||1-2||29||0||0||0||0||0||39.0||24||15||14||1||15||43||3.23||1.00|
I know Braves fans don't want to hear this, but Cory Luebke has been really good this season. His FIP and xFIP (2.24, 2.84) are even more impressive than his ERA and he's striking out more than a batter an inning. He doesn't walk many nor give up many hits, and has dominated left-handed hitters all year.
Luebke throws a fastball in the low-90's, though he can touch 95 on occasion, a nasty slider and then an occasional changeup when he gets behind to a right-handed batter. He's young, but Luebke knows what he's doing on the mound and the Braves will need to bring their bats if they hope to close out the series with a victory.
The Padres are a team capable of shutting an offense down on any given night with their pitching staff and will give the Braves a tough series this weekend. They don't score too many runs, but if Atlanta's defense or staff get sloppy, the club could leave SoCal without a victory. Don't take the Padres lightly.