The Padres come into their weekend series with the Mets sitting at the bottom of the NL West. They are pretty obviously still in the depths of a complete rebuild, regardless of how many dollars they give to Eric Hosmer, but there is some hope on the horizon. Their minor league system is teeming with prospects, and some of that talent has begun to spill over onto the major league roster. Three of those young players are the focus of the following Padres’ stats preview.
Hedges’ fielding: Austin Hedges led all of the majors last season in Fielding Runs Above Average at 31.8. He is currently leading catchers in the same category this year (2.7), in large part to his elite framing skills (2.4 Framing Runs in 2018-first, 25.9 Framing Runs in 2017-second). His contributions at the plate have not been impressive (.136 TAv), but the Padres will take that kind of defensive production from their catcher. In case you were wondering, the top Mets’ catcher defensively this year is d’Arnaud, with 1.0 in both Framing Runs and FRAA.
Villanueva’s brilliance: No Padres preview would be complete without Christian Villanueva, as he is currently 10th in MLB WARP (1.3) and first in TAv (with an otherworldly .424) among players with at least 50 plate appearances. His dominance has been a bright spot in an already tough start for the Padres, but unfortunately, it may not last. His BABIP is .441, and his HR/FB% is at 36.8%. The BP projection systems are not really buying it either, as his projected WARP for the final five months of the season (1.2) is less than his April total. Still, 2.5 WARP would be a pretty solid rookie campaign.
Lucchesi’s hot start: Joey Lucchesi has been phenomenal to start his MLB career after skipping Triple-A. He has a 9.8 K/9 paired with a 2.7 BB/9. His FIP is 2.88, and his DRA is even lower at 2.24, suggesting his success may not just be a flash in the plan. His fastball is not overwhelming, coming in at just 91.1 mph, but his changeup has been a put-away pitch, as batters are swinging and missing at a 21% rate on it.
The Good: Brad Hand’s strikeout numbers have only improved, as he has a 13.9 K/9, up from 11.8 last season.
The Bad: Franchy Cordero has struck out in nearly 40% of his plate appearances so far (38.9% to be exact), and only walked in 5.6%.
The Ugly: Clayton Richard and Bryan Mitchell, the scheduled starters for games one and three in the series have DRAs of 7.13 and 8.33, respectively.
Matt Harvey’s first relief appearance was just okay, but there was a small encouraging sign. The velocity on all his pitches were up, which is not shocking in a shorter appearance, but perhaps gives some hope he could be effective in this role. His fastball velo was 94.4, up from his 93.2 season average, but still well below his peak in 2013 of 97.0, or even his 2015 average velo of 96.5.
Photo credit: Jake Roth – USA Today Sports