Eric Stults has been the NL’s worst pitcher and San Diego’s offense is the weakest in baseball, so the last six weeks for the Padres left-hander seem as predictable as gravity.
His Padres teammates will try to pick him up and reconcile their collective struggles Saturday night against the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks, though Stults shouldn’t count on much help from an offense that’s entering the ranks of the worst in history.
Stults (2-10, 5.49 ERA) has the highest ERA and opponent batting average (.317) in the NL and is tied with Arizona’s Brandon McCarthy for the most losses in baseball.
San Diego (34-46) has a league-low batting average (.213) with the fewest runs scored (239), all the while trending in the wrong direction with six hits in Friday’s 2-1 series-opening loss after being no-hit Wednesday.
"I just felt we swung through a lot of fastballs," said catcher Yasmani Grandal, who gathered one of the team’s hits. "We couldn’t really get on it."
Now entering the halfway point of the season, the Padres are on pace to post the lowest team batting average since the 1910 Chicago White Sox hit .211. The 1968 New York Yankees hit .212 through their first 81 games. The 1969 Padres finished with a franchise-worst .225 average.
Stults’ last outing was his longest of the season and one of his strongest, but it was still a defeat that extended a career-worst stretch. He’s lost five straight starts with a 6.75 ERA and 1.78 run-support average. The embattled 34-year-old allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings of Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, falling to 0-7 with a 5.91 ERA in his last eight starts.
"Location was better," he said. "I was able to limit the mistakes."
The only game the team has won during Stults’ winless streak was a 4-3 victory in Arizona on May 27. He’s 5-4 with a 3.29 ERA in 10 starts against the Diamondbacks. Martin Prado is 9 for 24 with a home run, triple and two doubles against him.
Stults will be opposed by Josh Collmenter, who has picked up five wins during his counterpart’s struggles. Collmenter (6-4, 3.87) was used in relief and earned the win in Tuesday’s 9-8 victory in 14 innings over Cleveland.
His last start also produced a win after the right-hander gave up a run and four hits while walking four in five innings of a 4-1 victory over San Francisco on June 20.
Collmenter hasn’t started against San Diego since 2011 and is 2-3 with a 3.98 ERA in three starts and nine relief appearances. Seth Smith is 5 for 11 with a homer, triple and double against him.
The Diamondbacks (34-48) are looking to win back-to-back games for the first time since June 7-8 against Atlanta with an opportunity to drag San Diego down into a tie for last place in the NL West.
Paul Goldschmidt could help them accomplish that by breaking out of a 1-for-16 slump. He went 0 for 2 with two walks Friday, but is batting .375 against the Padres this season.
Diamondbacks shortstop Chris Owings was scratched from Friday’s lineup with a sore left shoulder.
"Just thought it would be smarter to get him out of there and let him be able to work at his own pace and not force him into the game tonight," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson told MLB’s official website. "I’m hoping and think that he’ll probably be ready to go (Saturday)."
Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin’s sore left shoulder kept him out.