The final series for the Padres before the All-Star Break is a pivotal three-game set against the rival Colorado Rockies, who currently sit three games behind San Diego (and tied with the Dodgers) for the division lead.
Check out my breakdown of the Padres’ three starters in the series, and how they might match up with the Rockies’ bats, after the jump.
The nice thing about Correia is that he has five playable pitches, so he can pitch to a batter’s specific weakness. Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler, for example, have issues with breaking stuff, while Clint Barmes and Melvin Mora have issues with fastballs.
Correia’s best pitch is his curveball, and the Rockies have several batters (Mora, Miguel Olivo, Seth Smith, Fowler, Gonzalez, Jonathan Herrera, and Ian Stewart) who struggle on curves. Jason Giambi and Ryan Spilborghs excel against the pitch, however.
As a groundball pitcher, Correia should be up for more success in Coors Field than most. He needs to be careful to Giambi and bust him inside with his cutter, a pitch Giambi has struggled with for years. He’s also got to be cautious with Seth Smith, who excels at hitting anything except curves. Correia’s going to need to keep his other pitches down to keep Smith from lifting one deep into the thin air.
This lineup is loaded with lefties who could give Correia some problems. Miguel Olivo‘s overly aggressive approach should play into Correia’s hands well, particularly since he can’t hit a curveball, and he’s the only right-handed hitter of note. Correia will need to turn to his curve, cutter, and changeup to neutralize the lefties, because he doesn’t have the type of fastball he can sneak by them. How effectively he can mix his pitches and hit his spots to lefties will determine Correia’s ultimate success.
Thankfully, Wade LeBlanc is a lefthander, so he should have a bit of an easier task by default. However, handedness alone doesn’t make for a good matchup, and LeBlanc’s flyballing ways are a poor fit for Coors. He lacks the sort of breaking ball to really put lefthanders away, so he can’t take advantage of their struggles against curveballs. LeBlanc’s cutter can help out as a pseudo-slider to the lefties, however.
LeBlanc, of course, relies on a devastating changeup, but the Rockies are stacked with hitters who may be able to deal with the pitch. Brad Hawpe, Mora, Gonzalez, and Olivo all are very good changeup hitters, and only Stewart, Barmes, and Brad Eldred have issues with offspeed pitches.
LeBlanc has a lot going against him. The Rockies’ weakness–breaking balls–is his weakness as well, and his strength–the changeup–is theirs too. Throw in the fact that he’s a flyballer pitching in Coors, and he could run into some real trouble.
Clayton Richard is another lefty without much in the way of breaking stuff, although his breaking pitches are much more effective than LeBlanc’s, and he generally eats lefties alive with his two-seam fastball. A groundballer, Richard should be able to survive in Coors, and every lefty batter except Smith struggles with either the fastball or the slider, so Richard shouldn’t have too big of an issue there. He’ll need to avoid leaving a fastball out over the plate to righties Olivo or Eldred, two dead-red hitters with excellent power.
Richard matches up well with this team, as long as he trusts his stuff and attacks the hitters, an issue which plagued him in his last start. Hopefully he’ll be able to deliver a win heading into the All-Star Break.