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Series Preview: Brewers at Padres

Photo: MLB.com

Game One: Randy Wolf (21.1 IP, 5.72 FIP) vs. Joe Wieland (17 IP, 5.07 FIP)

Wolf had his first quality start of the year last time out, though facing the Astros probably helped. It worked out nicely that Wolf, a fly-ball pitcher who sometimes struggles with the home run, was able to start at spacious Petco Park.

He will be facing Joe Wieland, a rookie right-hander thirteen years his junior. Wieland was never a great prospect, but has steadily improved as he has climbed the minor-league ladder, and now projects to be a solid midrotation arm. Wieland’s stuff is good, but unexceptional: His fastball sits at 90-92 mph, his curveball and change are solid, and he throws a slider as well. His command, however, is exceptional, as he is yet to walk more than 2.6 batters per nine in any minor-league season, and this adds to all of his pitches. Wieland is pretty untested in the majors, but the initial results have been pretty good, save for some problems with the home run.

Game Two: Shaun Marcum (24 IP, 3.70 FIP) vs. Edinson Volquez (30 IP, 3.48 FIP)

The Brewers have done a pretty good job of keeping Marcum’s pitch counts under control so far, as he is yet to throw more than 105 pitches in a start.

Part of the trade for Mat Latos, Volquez will always be an interesting commodity, if nothing else: He throws very hard (his average fastball last year was around 94 mph) and gets good break on his hard curveball. Hitters struggle to make solid contact off these pitches, leading to a good ground-ball rate and few home runs for a pitcher who spent most of his career in Great American Bandbox. There’s one little problem that has made Volquez a pitching coach’s nightmare instead of the ace he could probably be: Walks. For his career, Volquez has averaged nearly 4.83 per nine innings in the majors, and was even worse (5.38) last year. As a result, Volquez is sometimes terrible and sometimes brilliant, though the sum of those is a decent, yet maddeningly mercurial starter. However, his starts against the Brewers have been mostly the first: He has allowed 32 runs and 11 homers in 47 innings versus the Crew.

Game Three: Yovani Gallardo (26.2 IP, 4.11 FIP) vs. Cory Luebke (31 IP, 2.66 FIP)

Gallardo’s last outing is probably still fresh in everybody’s mind, but he has only allowed 4 runs in 21 innings when you take away his two disaster starts against St. Louis.

Another member of the young Padres’ rotation, Luebke is entering his second full season in the major leagues, but is signed through 2015. Luebke has the stuff to hold his own in a big-league rotation — his fastball sits around 91-93 mph, and he has two quality secondary pitches in his curve and change — but he also helps his cause with excellent command. This combination has led to quite a bit of success already, even if he flies under the radar to some extent due to being in San Diego: Last year, in 139.2 innings, Luebke struck out nearly 10 batters per nine innings, versus 2.8 walks, which led to an excellent 2.93 FIP. This will be Luebke’s first start against the Brewers.

Other Notes:

– The Padres lineup has been very fluid from game to game this year, which is why I didn’t post one at the beginning of the article like I usually do.

– We already noted that being in a pitcher’s park like Petco could help a pitcher like Randy Wolf, but it might also spell trouble for the Brewers’ offense.  

– I’m not sure what everyone here thinks of him, but Mark Kotsay is with the Padres right now. He’s gone .250/.333/.313 in 18 plate appearances, most of which have been pinch-hit opportunities.