Padres Pitcher on Fade Alert in Thursday Soiree with Dodgers

Rainman M.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018 3:30 PM UTC

Wednesday, Jul. 11, 2018 3:30 PM UTC

The Dodgers close a four-game series in San Diego on Thursday at 10 p.m. ET. Los Angeles is a great team, but even the worst one would be worth backing when the Padres' Tyson Ross takes the mound.

MLB Thursday: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego PadresFree MLB Pick: Dodgers RLBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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San Diego’s Tyson Ross (5-7, 4.41 ERA) has yielded 15 runs and four homers in his last seven innings. In each of his last three starts, he’s yielded an FIP (like ERA, but factors out luck) over 7.00 and a soft contact rate below his season average. Ross was lucky to be a profitable pitcher with the Padres going 5-0 in the one-run games that he’s been involved in. But his luck has run out. He is 0-4-1 in his last five outings, yielding -4 units.

The fastball and slider make up about 70% of Ross' arsenal. He also leans on a cutter. Ross is struggling with his three pitches and is consequently undergoing an identity crisis. On the season, Ross is throwing his fastball with 34% frequency. But in his last three starts, he’s had to reduce its usage significantly because opponents are slamming it. For example, he had leaned on it with 30% frequency to finish off batters with two strikes, but now he almost never throws it in this scenario. In his last three starts, his fastball is yielding an average 89.5 mph exit velocity, .8 higher than league average. Its opposing xSLG (expected slugging) is .710. Its opposing line drive percentage is up and swing and chase percentages are way down even though he’s getting hit harder. Thus opponents are able to more selective and comfortable. He is mainly struggling with its location. For example, he’s leaving it with nearly six percent more frequency in the heart of the plate.

Ross also drastically reduced his cutter usage. Opponents have hit .400 or higher against it in five of his last eight outings. He’s making mistakes in location with it and getting slammed when he leaves it in the middle of the plate. Ross’ last two opponents rank bottom seven in slugging against the cutter and fastball from righties, but nonetheless found success against these pitches from Ross. The Dodgers rank eighth in slugging against these two pitches even though they’re vastly underachieving against them based on the metric SLG-xSLG. To make up for his reduced fastball and cutter usage, he is leaning especially on his slider, but with bad results. His slider is yielding an opposing slugging percentage over .600 in each of his last three starts, even though his last three opponents rank bottom 10 against this pitch. Like with the cutter, he’s paying for mistakes in location, while his quality doesn’t suffice to compensate for those mistakes.

Watch for Matt Kemp, who is batting over .450 both against the Padres and in PETCO Park.

Ross Stripling (7-2, 2.22 ERA) has lost only once since April. He’s endured at least six innings in eight of his last 10 starts. Stripling’s FIP hasn’t been that great because of the homers that he’s allowed. But FIP, in its calculation, exaggerates the effect of homers, which is unfair for Stripling. Nine of the 10 homers that he’s allowed have been solo shots, but this isn’t luck. He is more aggressive and takes more chances when runners aren’t on base, throwing more than twice of his pitches in the zone when no runners are on than when runners are on.

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He owns a fastball, slider, curve combo. His top weapon is the curve, which opponents are batting .169 against. It’s been the biggest weapon in his improvement as a starter. He relies on it in all scenarios and against both lefties and righties. It’s never had as much vertical movement and he’s never commanded it for a strike and induced so many whiffs so often with it as in this season.

Stripling has owned the Padres, allowing zero runs in 10.2 innings. They rank second-to-last in slugging against his three pitches from righties.

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