After Monday nights win against the D-backs, the San Diego Padres are sitting at 24-24. They’re 7 games out of 1st place in the NL West, but only 2 games out of the Wild Card. What if you asked any Padre fan in August of last year if they’d be happy sitting at .500 towards the end of May 2019? They’d be over the moon.
How quickly we’ve become spoiled.
After signing Manny Machado, the fan base became fired up. This writer included. Predictions of 85-90 wins were flying around. Suddenly the Padres were relevant again.
Fast forward to today, and there’s been dozens of articles written about the Padres recent struggles. Criticism of manager Andy Green has been commonplace, along with talk of a failing bullpen and an underachieving offense. They’re 7-11 in the month of May. So is that it? Are these just the same old Padres? Not so fast.
Here’s a few reasons why they’ll be buyers AND in contention at the all star break.
They’re going to hit
Currently, the team is 27th out of 30 teams in runs per game. They’ve struck out 472 times, more than every other team except the Seattle Mariners. They’re OBP is a paltry .285, also 27th out of 30 teams. Moral of the story, they’ve been bad. But here we are sitting at .500 while all this is happening. Machado hasn’t gone on a tear yet. He’s hitting .263 with 9 HR and 24 RBI. Decent numbers, but he hasn’t had one of those months where he carries a team. Outside of Franmil Reyes, injured Fernando Tatis Jr. and an odd year Eric Hosmer nobody has performed up to their potential. Point? There’s a ton of upside. They’re going to start hitting. Tatis Jr. will be back in the coming weeks which will provide a big boost to the team. You can’t underestimate the impact he has. It’s impossible for Hedges to continue to be as unlucky as he’s been. Wil Myers will calm down. We could go on and on. My prediction is that the offense will start really heating up in June. Watch out for this team when it happens.
The bullpen will get better
Trey Wingenter is healthy and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The do it all reliever was desperately missed. He didn’t pitch well last night, but his presence was certainly invaluable. He’s a reliable arm that can help get the team through the 6th-7th inning. With most of the starters on inning limits, it’s critical to have that gap filler. Over the last few weeks, they just haven’t had that. A good example is Green opting to leave Eric Lauer in on May 10th. The Rockies 7 run 4th essentially ended the game. In a situation with a healthy and rested bullpen, he may have pulled Lauer and taken a chance to win the game with a long relief outing. They’ve been forced into some tough situations. Inevitably, they will find another reliable arm. It may be in the minors, it may be a current free agent. One thing is certain though. When it comes to the bullpen, they always figure it out.
The rotation will work itself out
Its no secret the team was actively looking for a starting pitcher before the the season. It’s probably still the case now. AJ Preller hasn’t slept since becoming the GM of the Padres (maybe ever?). I wouldn’t be surprised if the team pulled the trigger on a right hander by mid July. Strahm and Paddack have been excellent. Lucchesi has been mostly solid outside of back to back poor outings in April. Lauer has been shaky, but there’s still belief within the organization that he can figure things out like he did towards the end of last season. Once they figure out who that piece is, look out. This is a GOOD rotation. It’ll be interesting to see how Green manages them over the next 60 days or so.
In my opinion, these are 3 rather compelling reasons that there’s plenty of room for optimism. When Tatis Jr comes back, this is the same team that was 17-13 in April. Will they overtake the Dodgers? Probably not. They’ll be in the Wild Card hunt though. It’ll be fun all the way through.
Tough stretch’s will happen, but this team is built to last.