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OOTP21 Padres: Damn the Dodgers

The Dodgers are alive and the Padres are trying their best to stay at the top of the NL West.

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

If you’ve missed any part of the story so far, you can always check here to see all of the posts I’ve written on Gaslamp Ball about this virtual San Diego Padres team I’m playing through with OOTP21.

It’s been about a week since I checked in with my efforts to make the 2020 San Diego Padres (and beyond) great using Out of the Park Baseball 21. This was the week where I really sunk into that notion: I’m not trying to simulate the season or predict the future, I’m trying to make them better! It was freeing and allowed me to make a couple of more trades that are going to have huge ramifications later.

Onto the categories...

Overall

Things are...fine. I’ve been waiting for the Los Angeles Dodgers to catch on fire at some point and catch up to me (I’ve been in 1st place most of the season), and they’ve finally done it.

A .584 winning percentage is really good! And this still puts me in a really good spot for wild card standings. However, I was trying to fend the Dodgers off and that doesn’t appear likely anymore.

There’s lots of good news here! The offense was league-last in most categories last time I checked in and it’s league-average now. That’s good! The pitching is also still really good, despite some bad luck and bad defense.

Starting Pitching

Just when I started to think that my pitching staff was doing a good job of staying healthy, it fell apart. A reminder of what it looked like last time:

Compared to:

So....yeah.

Paddack is the only remaining pitcher from last time and his spot in the rotation has been switched. He also went from a 5-1 record to a 7-4 record.

Let’s lightning round through what happened...

  • Dinelson Lamet and his 7+ ERA were traded to the New York Yankees for $2.5M and Jonathan Loaisiga.
  • Mike Minor and his 4.61 ERA were traded to the Houston Astros for pretty good shortstop prospect (Jeremy Pena) that is currently tearing up the PCL.
  • Jacob Nix is out for 2-3 months with a forearm strain.
  • Mackenzie Gore is out for 1-2 weeks with blisters.
  • Reminder: Garrett Richards is about a month away from returning from having bone chips removed from his elbow.

Oh, I also traded away Michel Baez, who would otherwise be in the rotation right now. But we’ll get to that later.

The current rotation is fine. Luis Patiño was called up and immediately thrown into action in relief when Gore’s blisters knocked him out in the 1st inning of his start, so he got knocked around. His second appearance, and first start, went much better (after a kinda rough 1st inning). I’m not worried about him.

Ideally, we end up with a rotation of Paddack / Gore / Richards / Patino and either Loaisiga or Diaz as the 5th for most of the season.

Bullpen

The bullpen is still mostly great.

Kirby Yates has blown a couple of saves, but that’s going to happen. Pomeranz and Stammen both got knocked around pretty hard too, but those things also happen. Bullpen ERAs fluctuate!

Cronenworth being a solid utility guy and a useful arm for blowouts has been a revelation for roster management. I can see why the real Padres want him to make the team.

Seeing as how Kirby is a free agent after this season and I view relief pitchers as anything but consistent, I’m hoping for another solid month from him before I sell him to the highest bidder before the trade deadline.

Infield

I have good news! After really struggling to get Fernando Tatis Jr. or Manny Machado going in any real way, I made an adjustment. I moved Tatis from the #1 spot in the lineup to the #4 spot in the lineup (behind Machado). Since then, I’ve seen a lot of improvement from both of them, which is a big reason why the offense has gotten drastically better.

Eric Hosmer remains my best offensive player, and Wil Myers has been a positive, too. The benefits of a 1B platoon!

Austin Hedges is playing so well that he’s starting to win back the starting catcher job from Francisco Mejia (who has been good, but not great).

I’ve also heard, although not confirmed, that Hedges being behind the plate in the game actually makes the pitchers perform better because of his “catcher ability”. I’ve mostly been starting him against lefties, but I’m giving him a few starts against right-handed pitchers these days to see if he can keep up with those hitting numbers.

The only infield issue right now is 2B, which makes sense since I traded away my two best second basemen (Greg Garcia and Breyvic Valera). I’m loathe to trade for anyone who will stick around for very long because Jeter Downs is ready to take the starting job late this year or early next. So, for now, I’m balancing Jake Cronenworth and Jurickson Profar as my 2B platoon and scraping by with replacement-level results.

Outfield

The outfield hasn’t changed much since last check-in. Andrew Benintendi is still my everyday left fielder, and Juan Lagares is my everyday center fielder (and continuing to hit the crap out of the ball).

I traded some scraps away to get Cameron Maybin as my 4th OF, and he’s been fine.

Right field was some weird mishmash of Franchy Cordero and Josh Naylor during my last check-in, which is a difficult platoon since they’re both left-handed. I solved all of these problems by finding a trade partner, shipping Naylor to the Baltimore Orioles for Austin Hays.

Not bad, eh?

The future / The big news

So, my scouts are always looking for prospects that might be of use to my team. I laughed when I got a message from one of them, saying that Wander Franco might fit our needs and we might want to pursue a trade for him.

If you’re unaware, Wander Franco is the #1 prospect in all of baseball (both in real life and in OOTP21) and I don’t think it’s particularly close. He’s a 19-year old shortstop that played single A ball for the Tampa Bay Rays organization last season and is probably 1-2 years away from the big leagues.

I decided, upon seeing the message, to make a challenge for myself. Could I find a trade for Franco that the Rays would accept without giving up any of the following players:

  • Mackenzie Gore
  • Fernando Tatis Jr.
  • Luis Patiño
  • Chris Paddack

And, somehow, I did it. I pulled it off. Wander Franco is now an Amarillo Sod Poodle.

So, now when I take a peek at my top prospects, it basically comes with streamers and fireworks:

That’ll do! It’s also the only way I’ll ever have a chance of competing with the Dodgers in the NL West.

I haven’t been on Twitch as much lately (small house and everyone’s home, so Twitch can be somewhat disruptive to others!), but I’m going to jump on after lunch today (around 12:30p PT?) to play a game or two and take questions about this team or the real Padres.

Follow me here and I believe you’ll get a notification when I go live. Or you can always just watch here:

Thanks for reading/watching!