The Padres, now safely six games up in the NL West, will travel to Milwaukee to face a dangerous Brewers offense for three games. Wade LeBlanc, Kevin Correia, and Jon Garland are the Friars’ probable starting pitchers.
What will they need to do to stave off Milwaukee’s offensive attack? Let’s take a look.
Throw the Brewers breaking pitches. They won’t hit them.
The team is the second-best fastball-hitting team in the game (.78 runs above average per 100 heaters), but they’re equally bad against sliders, and a miserable 1.14 below average per 100 curveballs. They do hang in on changeups, at .34 above average per 100.
Some other tendencies: they hit righties (.268/.337/.440) better than lefties (.248/.332/.408), have the fifth-highest Isolated Power in baseball, and second-highest in the NL (.168), and strike out at the sixth-worst clip in the game. The team chases just an average number of pitches, but they make contact fewer than most clubs, hence the elevated K rate.
A power-hitting team that hits fastballs and changeups and doesn’t have overaggressive tendencies? Sounds like a nightmare Wade LeBlanc had, although at least the Brewers don’t hit lefties as well as righties. Sluggers Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder are, thankfully, not particularly adept at staying back on the changeup, though. Rickie Weeks and Corey Hart look to be the two most difficult matchups for LeBlanc, and he certainly can’t afford to miss with the fastball to Braun or Fielder. Casey McGehee has been ridiculous with changeups this year, and LeBlanc’s fastball won’t faze him.
It’s going to be tough for LeBlanc, who draws ace Yovani Gallardo as his opponent.
Correia, of course, has the breaking ball assortment better equipped to flummox Milwaukee hitters. The only Brewer batter who has been above-average against both sliders and curves this year is Lorenzo Cain, who has just a few games of experience.
Still, it’s not like Correia’s a tremendous pitcher in the first place. Thankfully, he uses his fastball less than most, so he’s got some useful weapons in his arsenal to combat this offense. Correia’s command hasn’t been great this year, and any mistakes up in the zone can get pounded by Braun, Fielder, McGehee, Cain, Hart, Weeks, etc. Expect middling results.
Jon Garland is a fastball-heavy pitcher, as we know. He tends to get away with it by throwing a lot of chase pitches, but the Brewers don’t seem like the sort of team that’s going to play his game. He’s not the sort who can take advantage of the Brewers’ high strikeout totals (where’s Latos when you need him?), and neither is Correia, so what you’re left with is two pitchers who are letting an explosive power-hitting team get their bats on the baseball almost every time up. Garland, like Correia, gets his share of weak contact and grounders, but I can’t help but wonder if he’s going to give up a couple of two-run homers.
So, not a particularly rosy outlook for San Diego’s three pitchers. Of course, Milwaukee’s pitching staff has been beleaguered too…but that’s the topic of the other half of the series preview.