Monday, October 5, 2020

Getting to Know Petco Park in San Diego


Welcome to the MLB Bubble Postseason 2020. What a year 2020 has been, so it's no surprise that baseball has been kind of wonky as well this season. Major League Baseball has decided to play the remainder of the postseason in a bubble format, meaning that the best-of-five series between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays will not be played in the Bronx, nor down in the Tampa area, but instead will be played inside Petco Park. The San Diego Padres call Petco Park home and are seemingly very familiar with the dimensions and such of the beautiful stadium out there, but the Yankees and their fans may not be as familiar. 

For all the talk on how hard it is to hit the ball out of Petco Park, the dimensions tell a little bit of a different story for me. Petco Park has a little bit of a short porch down the right field line at 322 feet, while down the left field line that 334 feet looks obtainable for these Yankees right-handed sluggers. Center field is shorter than Yankee Stadium's 408 foot target while the right-center and left-center field walls remain deep. Long story short, the Yankees may not have the opportunity to steal a "cheap" home run (and the Rays wont either), but there should still be plenty of offense to go around, in my opinion. 

For comparison, here are the dimensions at the current Yankee Stadium: 

The games will be played at 4:00 and 5:00 pm local time, which means the sun setting and the shadows that come with it will be a factor in the early innings of these games. The Yankees have spent the weekend working out during these peak times at the stadium, doing their homework on the shadows, the sun patterns, and anything else they can use to ensure a victory against their American League East rivals in this series. 

I don't believe the ballpark will be a factor in this series. The Rays always play the Yankees tough, but they are especially tough at that monstrosity that they call a home park down at Tropicana Field. With the ultimate equalizer in Petco Park becoming a reality, along with the emergence of Cole World and Higgy, I think the Yankees will be just fine throughout the ALDS. 

If Fernando Tatis Jr. can hit home run after home run out of this ballpark. and end up on a Bat Flip Brotherhood t-shirt because of it, then so can the likes of Voit, DJ, Judge and Gleyber. 

ALDS Game 1 - New York Yankees @ Tampa Bay Rays

The New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays are familiar foes who both reside in the American League East Division, so this best-of-five game series should offer little in terms of surprise, right? Well you must remember that this is 2020, and in 2020 if there is a curve ball to be thrown you should expect it to either be in the dirt and 20 feet short of the plate, or up and in towards your chin. Hopefully this latest little thing is more like the former and not the latter as these two teams will enter the MLB Postseason bubble while playing inside Petco Park in San Diego, home of the San Diego Padres. The Yankees have not played inside Petco Park since the 2016 season, so sample sizes will be limited, but these two teams know each other well... and it's well known that they just don't like one another. 

Gerrit Cole has not been good against the Rays this season, let's go ahead and get this out of the way early, but many of those starts came early on in the season before Cole both found his groove, and found comfort on the mound pitching to Kyle Higashioka. No, I am not worried about his 0-1 record this season against Tampa, nor am I worried about his 4.96 ERA against them in 2020. What I am worried about is how Cole has pitched to a 1.32 ERA over 34 innings since being paired with Higgy on September 5th, hurling 47 strikeouts with just five walks. 

Blake Snell, future Yankee #2 starter, became the first pitcher in the (Devil) Rays postseason history to get through the first five innings of a game without allowing a single hit. In two starts against the Yankees here in 2020, Snell has gone 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA, striking out eight batters over eight innings pitched. Snell has handled the Yankees, but not dominated. The playoffs are a new season. 

The game will be played at 8:07 pm ET inside Petco Park in San Diego and can be seen nationally on TBS.