No aspect of their game has played a bigger role in helping the San Diego Padres remain atop the NL West more than a pitching staff that boasts the best ERA in the majors.
This is the first time since the 2006 that the Padres (71-47) have had at least three pitchers in their rotation reach double figures in victories. Kevin Correia(notes), Jon Garland(notes), Mat Latos(notes) and Richard all have at least 10 wins this year.
“The thing that I’ve been most pleased with is the reliability of the five guys,” Padres manager Bud Black told the team’s official website. “The durability and reliability speaks volumes. It’s a good sign of stability.”
Richard (10-5, 3.80 ERA) will try to follow another impressive outing from a San Diego starter.
Garland scattered four hits in seven innings for his 12th win and Heath Bell(notes) pitched the ninth for his major league-leading 36th save in the Padres’ 1-0 victory over the Cubs on Tuesday. The Padres won for the eighth time in nine games and moved five games ahead of second-place San Francisco in the West.
San Diego is a season-high 24 games over .500.
“It all starts with pitching - you’ve got to have good pitching,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella told his team’s official website. “The Padres have got nice starting pitching and they’ve got a real nice bullpen.”
Since lowering his ERA to a season-low 2.71 on June 13, Richard has a 5.20 ERA in his last 11 starts. Despite some shaky outings, the left-hander is 6-2 during that span.
Richard limited the Giants to two runs and six hits over six innings in a 3-2 win Friday.
While the Padres have benefited from stability within their rotation, the Cubs (50-70) will be sending a rookie making his first big league start to the mound Wednesday.
Casey Coleman(notes) (0-0, 8.64) will be replacing Thomas Diamond(notes) in the rotation for a Chicago team that has lost five straight and eight of nine at home. Coleman has made four relief appearances this season, pitching two shutout innings in his last game against St. Louis on Friday.
“He’s a command guy, he has good movement on his pitches,” Cubs catcher Koyie Hill(notes) said. “He could spot up his changeup and threw his breaking ball well. I was really impressed with his demeanor. He’s somebody you kind of cheer for. You root for a guy like that because he’s maybe a little undersized. You want to see him do good.”
Coleman’s grandfather, Joe, was a pitcher and played in 1942, missed time because of the war, and returned to baseball from 1946-55. His father, also Joe, also was a right-handed pitcher and played 15 seasons from 1965-79, including one season (1976) with the Cubs.
The Cubs have used 15 rookies this season, including nine making their big league debuts.