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Avert Your Eyes - A San Diego Padres preview

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A look ahead at our first National League opponent of the season

MLB: Colorado Rockies at San Diego Padres
This doesn’t seem right
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Ugh. Let’s get this over with.

The White Sox came into this season in full tank mode, but it would have taken a more complete offseason gutting to bring them down to the level of the San Diego Padres’ 2017 roster. The Padres always represented the chief competition for the top pick in the 2018 draft and they’re well on their way. They have a deep collection of prospects that will help them in the future and the White Sox will encounter two of them. They have a few interesting and good position players. Their general manager has been accused of shady dealings in trade by seemingly half the league. Their starting pitching staff is boiling hot sewage. There’s your overview.

Let’s run through this starting staff real quick. The Padres’ opening day starter was Jhoulys Chacin, a number-four starter at best who gets hurt a lot and lacks a true out pitch. Trevor Cahill earned a World Series ring as a mop-up guy in the Cubs’ bullpen. He threw in 50 games, only earned four holds, and is now the best pitcher on the San Diego Padres. To be fair, Cahill’s new slider looks pretty good. Groundballer Luis Perdomo is the second Luis Perdomo to pitch for the Padres this decade, and though he looks a lot better than the first one, we won’t face him, so who cares. Clayton Richard has spent most of his post-White Sox career using cavernous Petco Park to try to hide poor pitching; he owns a career 3.00 ERA at Petco and a 5.03 ERA everywhere else. If Jered Weaver doesn’t pitch well on Sunday, he might be done in San Diego. On the plus side, he’s dominated the White Sox in his career, but on the minus side, he’s so bad that he broke DRA and PWARP.

Whew.

With that parade of sad clowns in the rear-view mirror, we can talk about the Padres players that are actually good. First baseman Wil Myers stayed healthy and made the All-Star team last year, finally making good on the potential that made the Rays deal James Shields and Wade Davis for him. Myers hit 28 home runs last year and his power numbers have been even better so far in 2017. Center fielder Manuel Margot is a top-tier prospect with elite wheels and defense. The only real question about Margot was whether his bat would play, but so far he’s been essentially league average at contact, discipline, and power. At age 22, Margot is already a pretty good player with plenty of upside potential.

Ryan Schimpf announced his presence last year by posting a .315 ISO as a 28-year-old rookie. That power comes with whiffs; he’s quite similar to Chris Davis, but with the added ability to play a respectable third base. The Padres had Schimpf effectively swap positions with Yangervis Solarte, who now mans the keystone. Solarte was fortunate enough to get a shot with the Yankees at age 26 and he made the most of the opportunity, as he’s a nice everyday player who will give you contact hitting with average-ish power and won’t kill you in the field.

The other inexperienced players have shown much less this year. Hunter Renfroe was a top-100 prospect entering this season and he tantalized with a strong major league debut at the end of last season. However, plate discipline has been his undoing this year, as he’s shown the same strike zone command as Tim Anderson. Renfroe has plenty of thump, but he’ll need to give pitchers a reason to throw the ball where he can harness that power before it’ll show up in the numbers.

Catcher Austin Hedges is very well-regarded defensively and he’s graded out as a plus framer thus far in his young career. However, the big question coming into 2017 was whether he’d hit, and he’s answered that question with a resounding, “I dunno....maybe?” Hedges has smacked a good amount of homers, but his batting average sits below the Mendoza line due to a lot of weak contact and below-average pitch recognition. His BABIP is unsustainably low, even for Hedges’ batted ball profile, so if he can maintain the power as his fortune improves, the Padres should have a nice two-way catcher.

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The Padres have a lot of young talent both on the major league roster and off it (nine Padres prospects made John Sickels’ Top 200). They are embracing a full-on tank and their organization is moving in the right direction. However, there is no denying that our guests for the weekend comprise a very, very bad baseball team. The White Sox may be in the midst of a rebuilding year, but they should be disappointed if they do not take this series.

Probable Starting Pitchers

Friday, May 12: Jhoulys Chacin vs. Miguel Gonzalez

Saturday, May 13: Trevor Cahill vs. Dylan Covey

Sunday, May 14: Jered Weaver vs. Jose Quintana

Key Personnel

Probable Lineup Pitching
Probable Lineup Pitching
1. Manuel Margot - CF SP1. Trevor Cahill - RHP
2. Cory Spangenberg - LF SP2. Jhoulys Chacin - RHP
3. Wil Myers - 1B SP3. Clayton Richard - LHP
4. Yangervis Solarte - 2B SP4. Luis Perdomo - RHP
5. Ryan Schimpf - 3B SP5. Jered Weaver - RHP
6. Austin Hedges - C CL. Brandon Maurer - RHP
7. Hunter Renfroe - RF RP1. Brad Hand - LHP
8. Matt Szczur - DH RP2. Ryan Buchter - LHP
9. Erick Aybar - SS RP3. Jose Torres - LHP