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OOTP Padres: Playoffs are coming!

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A big change to the team stopped a slump and has them cruising towards October.

MLB: San Diego Padres at Seattle Mariners
My 2nd baseman.
Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

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.

REMINDER: After I finish this season, I’ll be restarting without the ability to make roster moves myself.

We’re well past the trade deadline

When I last checked in, it was July 31st but I was done making deals. Kirby Yates and Wil Myers were gone, Brad Hand and Howie Kendrick were here. My team was winning with big bats and strong pitching, and the clubhouse seemed very happy. I was ready to ride with these guys and, really, I had no choice once that deadline had passed: waiver-wire deals don’t exist anymore.

Then August happened. My Padres went 11-14 and basically went to hell in a handbasket. The offense fell apart, the starting rotation fell apart, and the bullpen caught fire every time I opened it up. I won just 2 of 9 series and somehow scraped by. I wanted to make more trades. It felt like it was all slipping away. So, I did the only thing I could...

A drastic roster change!

My Triple-A team was bereft of pitching, but they did have something of value: Wander Franco. The 19-year old #1 prospect in all of baseball (whom I had traded for earlier this season) had already burned his way through Double-A and was lighting up the PCL. In addition to providing some offense, I saw a potential solution to a couple of my problems.

2B: After Jake Cronenworth went down with an injury, I didn’t have a lot left at 2B (Reminder that I had already traded away Jurickson Profar, Greg Garcia, and Breyvic Valera). I was starting Howie Kendrick there, but it wasn’t ideal.

SS: Fernando Tatis Jr.’s defensive ratings in OOTP are....below average. It was frustrating. The defense of your SS and CF really affect pitching performance, and I needed it to be better. Franco’s defensive rating was better.

So, figuring that I could just go back to the way things were if Franco couldn’t hack it at the MLB level yet, I called up Franco and turned Tatis into my everyday second baseman.

Finding good footing again

Franco and Tatis both exploded offensively, in a good way, after the change/call-up. They became an offense by themselves, which was enough to make my team a little more competitive, but I was still blowing leads with the bullpen. I had started to lose hope.

I knew that I couldn’t add any more players, so I tried to be more craft about my bullpen usage. I called on my most reliable pitchers to close out games, even if it meant passing over my closer and setup men. It worked a little better.

Eventually, we caught a soft spot in the schedule, and are now riding a 6-game winning streak. We’ve reached a point, on September 7th, where missing the playoffs would require a catastrophic collapse. It’s not out of the realm of possibility, but it’s not likely.

Overall/Other things

Before I show you my lineup and pitching rotation, a couple of things I glossed over:

  • Juan Lagares’ amazing offensive season finally fell apart. He hit .236 in July and .171 in August. I’ve moved on to the best defensive options at CF (a platoon between Brett Phillips and Braden Bishop) instead. I’m considering moving that spot in my lineup to 9th.
  • Luis Patiño strained his forearm and will miss the rest of the season and the playoffs. Jacob Nix will be back soon, he’s doing a rehab stint in the minors right now as he returns from injury.

This team is still very reliant on good pitching, but the offense is a lot better than it is on the real-life Padres team. It would have to be for my team to still be hovering around a .600 winning percentage!

Now they just have to not fall apart in the final three weeks and they’ll have at least one playoff game to play. Once we get to those more meaningful games, expect to see a lot more of me on this Twitch channel: