It's been awhile since the Texas Rangers have played the San Diego Padres. Almost three years, actually. It's been even longer since the Rangers have played a game in San Diego -- closer to eleven years. So, if you're a Rangers fan, don't beat yourself up too much if you're unfamiliar with the Padres.
The 2012 version of the San Diego Padres are simply not good. Coming into Monday night's game, the Padres are already a staggering 18 (!) games out of first place. On June 18, 2012. Think about that for a second. Only the Cubs (22-44) have a worse record than the Padres (24-43), and only the Twins (-74) have a worse run differential than the Padres (-73).
So, who exactly are the Padres?
Let's start with Monday night's starter. Jason Marquis (3-5, 1.86 WHIP, .353 BAA, 6.60 ERA) will take the mound for San Diego. The same Jason Marquis who was a member of the Minnesota Twins earlier this year. Marquis has been better since he started pitching for San Diego, but even in his two starts, he's given up a combined 15 hits. He's a very hittable pitcher, and he's simply not good. Expect the Rangers to put a lot of balls in play on Monday night.
Texas will take on former Ranger farmhand Edinson Volquez on Tuesday night, whom the Padres acquired from the Cincinnati Reds over the winter. Unlike Marquis, Volquez won't let hitters hit .300+ off of him. Instead, Volquez will just issue walks. And lots of them. In 82.2 innings on the year, Volquez has already walked 40 batters, and is on pace to walk over 100 for the season. Once again, the Rangers and Rangers fans can expect to have plenty of base runners.
Anthony Bass will start on Wednesday, and he's probably the most balanced of the three pitchers Texas will be facing. Bass' 2-7 record is a bit deceiving, as he's the owner of a 4.88 ERA, .255 BAA and 1.37 WHIP -- all respectable numbers.
Surely, there must be something redeeming about the Padres, right? They must hold some type of advantage, even if it's minuscule, right?
Well, sort of. At home this year, San Diego is a bit more respectable with a 14-20 record, compared to a 10-23 road record. It'll also be the first trip for the Rangers in franchise history to PETCO Park, which is perhaps the toughest park in all of baseball to hit in.
PETCO Park also clearly has aided San Diego's pitchers this year. Tuesday night's starter, Volquez, has a 3.17 ERA and has held batters to a .212 average at home through 48.1 innings, compared to 4.46 and .244 on the road this year. Wednesday's starter, Bass, has also experienced a similar split, though hardly noticeable on the BAA front: 1-2, 3.62 ERA, .254 BAA at home, 1-5, 6.00 ERA, .256 BAA on the road.
The problem for the Padres, though, is that this advantage goes both ways. San Diego's hitters, as a team, are hitting .214/.301/.331 at home. Of hitters with over 75 home plate appearances, Yonder Alonso has been the best Padre -- with a .263/.361/.360 line and no home runs.
In 34 home games this year, the Padres have belted just 14 home runs, and no player on the roster has hit more than two. To say the least, Texas' staff should be able to put up nice numbers this week. Hopefully, and perhaps most importantly, Yu Darvish builds on his recent successful outing against the Astros. Darvish will be facing an inept lineup in one of the best parks to pitch in on Wednesday -- it's certainly a recipe for success, and hopefully something that can keep Darvish rolling.
This isn't to say the Padres can't beat the Rangers. Anything can happen in baseball. In fact, I'd say the Padres have an ok chance of winning on Tuesday night, when Volquez takes the mound against Scott Feldman.
The Rangers, though, are playing a far inferior team, especially offensively, and they're playing the Padres in a park where offense is tough to come by -- particularly for the home team.
Interleague should continue to be kind to Texas. We'll see if it is on Monday night.