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Series Forty: Padres at Marlins

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The last time the Padres and Marlins got together (way back in mid-May), the baseball landscape was completely different than it is today. The Marlins were in a much closer struggle for first place with the Braves; the Padres (although we didn't realize at the time) were just beginning a run of great baseball, which catapulted them into first place in the NL West.

But since then, things have changed. Both teams have struggled. The Padres find themselves in first place (with a three game lead), but they're below .500. They most definitely have playoff aspirations, but how deep they're poised to go is a separate issue.

The Marlins, on the other hand, are currently in 4th place. But they are 5 games above .500 and are only 2.5 games back of the Wild Card-leading Astros. Of their remaining 45 games, 23 come against teams that are either ahead of them in the wild card and/or division race.

Both teams are at an interesting place right now. This is a critical juncture in the season. Winning two of three games is important to each team, but what's even more important is generating some momentum.

Both teams might have some momentum right now. Despite a number of injuries to key players, the Marlins have been on something of a roll. The Padres have been too: they've won their past three series.

In anticipation of what should be a great series, we sat down with the Padres' Swinging Friar to discuss just that.

: Welcome back to FishStripes, Friar.

: Thanks for having me, Grover. It's nice to be back. I know that a lot has changed since we last played each other.

: Indeed. I see that Khalil Greene is back on the DL. That's a shame. I was looking forward to his defensive wizardry.

: Yes, but Greene should be back soon enough. On a more positive note, have you noticed our new catcher, Miguel Olivio? He's posted an OPS of .970 - with a .359 OBA and .611 SLG - since joining the Pads.

: I had missed that. I'll be curious to see how Olivo manages with the Padres' pitchers. Olivo's issue has never been his bat (with the White Sox or Mariners), but he allegedly wears out his welcome with his pitchers.

Speaking of Pads' pitchers, has Jake Peavy continued to dominate?

: Yes, he really has. Since the All-Star break his record is "only" 3-2, but his 3.14 post-break ERA is identical to his season mark. He's having another great season, but it's been obscured by the outstanding performances of Roger Clemens, Chris Carpenter, and Dontrelle Willis. You can judge Peavy for yourself on Thursday night.

: One of the Marlins' biggest woes this season has been their bullpen. Their starters, particularly Willis, Burnett, and Beckett, have been dominant. However, outside of Todd Jones (yes, that Todd Jones), the bullpen has generally been shaky. How would you describe the Padres' pitching situation?

: In many ways, it's actually the opposite of the Marlins situation. Peavy has been great. But Brian Lawrence is the only other Pads starter with 20 or more starts. Williams is really the third guy, and Chan Ho Park is now a regular starter too. But the Padres have used 10 starters this season - including 8 for 5 or more starts.

The bullpen is really the Padres strength. Antonio Otsuka and Scott Linebrink have provided a great bridge to Trevor Hoffman. To sum it up more succintly, the Padres' starters have a 4.66 ERA while the bullpen has posted a mark of 3.59.

: Thanks for your time, Friar. We'll see you at the ballpark this week.