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2021 Series Preview: San Diego Padres @ Houston Astros

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The Astros (27-22, 2nd in AL West) go from #2 to #1 in the NL West as they welcome the Padres (32-19, 1st in NL West) to town

MLB: San Diego Padres at Houston Astros John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

The Narrative

The upstart Padres come into Houston riding first place in their division and threatening to actually take the crown from the Dodgers. While we’re only a quarter of the way through the season and the Dodgers are still the generally agreed upon favorite to win the division, there are some who believe that the future is now in Southern California. They come into this series hot after winning 14 of their last 17 games, which includes a 9 game streak.

The Padres made a lot of moves to shore up their starting pitching over the offseason, trading for Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Joe Musgrove. While Snell hasn’t quite matched his Cy Young form from Tampa Bay, Darvish and Musgrove have both really helped to turn San Diego’s rotation into something to be feared. It’s not just the starters though as the Friars own a league-best 2.60 ERA after 51 games and second-best WHIP (1.08) and BAA (.203) marks for their entire staff.

It’s a good thing the pitching is on point because the Padres’ offense has been mostly middling this season. But, like most good teams, they have been getting on base at a steady clip, with an OBP of .325 that is good for fourth in the league and just behind the Astros. They also take a ton of walks (205) and are second in that mark just behind the Dodgers.

However, the biggest feature of the Padres’ offense is stealing bases. They lead the league in that stat at 58 swiped bags, which is 22(!) more than the 2nd place team, the Royals. Of course, they’ve also been caught stealing the most at 15, but that’s to be expected when you run as often as San Diego does.

The Friars are a team the has done an excellent job of drafting well and trading or signing free agents to shore up thin spots. After several years of working towards this goal, things have seemingly come together for the Padres and they look ready to compete for the NL West. Time will tell if they’re able to get all the way to the finish line still in first, but this team is well on its way to making just that happen.

Quick Notes

  • Tatis Resilient: In spite of already making two trips to the IL for shoulder issues this season, Fernando Tatis Jr. (.303/.380/.689) has easily been the best offensive player for the Padres in 2021. His 1.069 OPS is one of only two over .800 for the Padres, and he’s mashed 13 taters even though he’s only played in 34 games this season. He also leads the team with 11 stolen bases. All of this comes after he started the season kind of cold, so just an impressive performance by Tatis so far in 2021.
  • Next Best Thing: After Tatis there isn’t a whole lot to crow about in the Padre’s offense. There are some bright spots however, including Jake Cronenworth (.292/.360/.438) and Eric Hosmer (.293.350.427). Trent Grisham (.301.383.515) has also been on an absolute tear for San Diego as well, but was recently sent to the IL for the second time this season and will not appear in this series.
  • Believer in Reliever(s): San Diego has one of the better relief corps in the game right now, as demonstrated by their MLB-best 2.60 ERA. The bullpen is also top three in the league for BAA (.203), WHIP (1.08), Strikeouts (538), and Saves (19). Of course every bullpen is going to have its fair share of warts, but the Astros are in real trouble if a lead is handed over to the pen this weekend.
  • Lights out: Padres closer Mark Melancon has been an absolute boss in the 9th inning so far this season. He has successfully converted all 17 of his save opportunities in 2021 and his ERA (0.81), WHIP (0.81), and BAA (.165) have all been absolutely phenomenal in 22.1 IP.
  • 6 Men Up: As good as Padres pitching has been this season, they are in the midst of a stretch in the schedule that could tax the whole staff. Today will mark the 8th game of 20 in a row with no days off for San Diego. For that reason the Padres have elected to go with a 6-man rotation that will rest the starters but might put more pressure on the bullpen. It also doesn’t help that they have played two extra-inning games this week.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Dinelson Lamet (RHP, 1-0, 1.64 ERA 12 K’s) vs Framber Valdez (LHP, 0-0, -.— ERA, 0 K’s)

Dinelson Lamet will get the ball to start the series and seems to be part of the Padre’s plan to up the rotation to 6 men. Lamet has not started this season and does not appear to be stretched out so this has the looks of a bullpen game, especially if the Astros can chase him early. Lamet did go three innings with 41 pitches in his last game so he can provide some length, but seems likely to be gone by the 5th.

Game 2: Yu Darvish (RHP, 5-1, 1.75 ERA, 74 K’s) vs Jake Odorrizzi (RHP, 0-2, 10.13 ERA, 11 K’s)

Our old nemesis Yu Darvish has been the Padres’ best pitcher this season, possibly their best player overall. He’s pitched 7 innings in half of his 10 starts (9 of which the Padres have won) and at least 6 in 2 others. I’m sure we’ll also hear about how this is a revenge game for Darvish, but if he shoves in this one it’s more likely just because he’s very, very good.

Game 3: TBD vs Zack Greinke (RHP, 4-2, 3.97 ERA, 53 K’s)

With the Padres pitching somewhat in flux heading into this series, it’s hard to know who could get this start. But Blake Snell (LHP, 1-1, 4.50 ERA, 67 K’s) had this spot in the rotation the last time through, so he seems like a good candidate. Snell has not really lived up to the hype since coming over to San Diego in the offseason, and laid an egg his last time on the mound. That start, against the Brewers, saw him go just 3.2 innings and give up 5 runs, so not ideal.

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Friday, May 28th @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Padres - KWFN 97.3, XEMO 860 / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2
Watch: Padres - Bally Sports San Diego / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

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Game 2: Saturday, May 29th @ 3:10 pm CDT
Listen: Padres - KWFN 97.3, XEMO 860 / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010
Watch: Padres - Bally Sports San Diego / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / MLB Network (out-of-market only)

Game 3: Sunday, May 30th @ 1:10 pm CDT
Listen: Padres - KWFN 97.3, XEMO 860 / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010
Watch: Padres - Bally Sports San Diego / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    Astros Sweep 3-0
    (13 votes)
  • 54%
    Astros Win 2-1
    (75 votes)
  • 29%
    Padres Win 2-1
    (40 votes)
  • 6%
    Padres Sweep 3-0
    (9 votes)
137 votes total Vote Now