Thursday, May 3, 2012

Redemption Soup

After watching Ryan Braun club 3 HR on Tuesday night (cue the 'move the fences back' music), most expected the Brewers to roll through San Diego for the balance of the series.  I don't think anyone expected Braun's 2-run ninth inning triple that night to usher in an 18-inning scoreless streak.

But that's exactly what happened.  And the main architects of that scoreless inning streak are two right-handed pitchers, one looking to resurrect his career, the other looking for one more summer in the sun.

Edinson Volquez has actually pitched pretty well this season, his meltdown 4th inning on opening day not withstanding.  His last two starts at Petco have been really good - 14 innings, 3 walks, 11 strikeouts.  One doesn't want to jump the gun and say the light bulb has come on, and Volquez is pitching like he did a couple of years ago, but consider - if he maintains his current xFIP of 3.80 it would be the second lowest of his career.  His current FIP of 3.35 is the lowest of his career.  His HR/FB rate is the lowest of his career (6.5%) with the enormous caveat that 5 of his six starts to date have been at Petco, and his BABIP is the lowest it's been since 2009.  Volquez is doing a lot of things right.

The other guy, Jeff Suppan?  All he was asked to do was replace San Diego's best starting pitcher this season.  Soup hadn't pitched in the majors since 2010 and hadn't won a game since the last day of that season (a 6-1 triumph over Colorado).  For him, this was a long road back.  I may have been the only Padres blogger hoping he'd make the team out of spring training but based on the recent injury histories of Dustin Moseley and Clayton Richard I think most expected he'd pitch for the club at some point this season (if he stuck with the organization out of spring training).

Soup got a favorable opponent in Milwaukee, a team he'd beaten 6 consecutive times going into yesterday.  And yesterday was vintage Suppan.  He attacked the bottom of the strike zone and stayed away from the middle of the plate.  You knew he was going to have a good day when his first (and only) real jam came in the second, when the Brewers loaded the bases with two jam-shot singles and an intentional walk.  When Suppan's sinker is working he is a tough pitcher to hit, and that's what he did yesterday.

He's 37 years old and near the end of his career.  When Lubeke comes back there may not be a rotation spot for him - although if Clayton Richard continues to struggle, I wonder.  But for this day it was nice to see vintage Suppan throw, a reward for the Padres who took a flier on him this off-season.

And finally - FINALLY - San Diego has won a series this season.  I do believe they are the last ML team to do that in 2012.  Padres have today off before starting a 3-game set with the new-look Marlins tomorrow night.

And as an aside - why are the Padres celebrating Cinco de Mayo tomorrow?  They have a home game on 5 May, why not do their promotion on the actual day?  Just wondering....

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