Good morning, Friar fans! Our Padres finished up the 4-game set with the Rockies last night, winning 6-0 in Colorado. The Padres thoroughly outplayed the Rockies during the series, outscoring their divisional opponents 32-10, and last night proved no exception as the team jumped out to early lead and never looked back. The game featured several of the Padres’ recent acquisitions, notably C Austin Nola and DH/1B Mitch Moreland playing the entire game, and RHP Trevor Rosenthal coming in to throw a scoreless ninth inning. RHP Garrett Richards also bounced back after two sub-par outings, lasting 3.2 IP and not giving up a run, while also K-ing 4. Richards was followed by LHP Adrian Morejon, who also went three innings, scattering four hits, and K-ing 2 to get credit for his first Major League win. The combined outing from Richards and Morejon also marked the second time EVER that two pitchers had thrown 3+ scoreless innings in Colorado since the park opened. A great win for the team as they head into the 20+ games of this “season.”
With that, let’s get into news and notes:
- With last night’s win, the Padres not only expanded their lead for the 2nd playoff spot out of the NL West, they also took possession of the 2nd best record in the National League. Currently, the team leads the Rockies by 4 games as they moved to a season-best 7 games above .500, boosting their winning percentage to .595 on the year, just ahead of the Chicago Cubs who check in at .588 on the year.
- The new acquisitions largely did well in their first appearance in Padres brown last night. C Austin Nola, who caught all nine innings and for all 5 of the Padres pitchers, recorded a single and a walk in his four plate appearances, and also scored the first run of the night after Fernando Tatis Jr. tripled. Mitch Moreland, who somewhat surprising got the start at 1B, went 0-4, though he did make contact in three of those at-bats (Launch angle! Elevate the ball, Mitch!). RHP Trevor Rosenthal, as mentioned above, worked a scoreless ninth, allowing a hit but then K-ing the last two batters.
- Manager Jayce Tingler came away with renewed confidence in RHP Garrett Richards. “To mechanically and mentally get back to being aggressive and for him to walk away with confidence and momentum,” Tingler said of the aim for Richards on Monday. “... He set the tone for us tonight. It’s a great one for him to build on.” The 32-year-old Richards was working on three days’ rest rather than the customary four or five. He had thrown just 33 pitches in his two-thirds of an inning Thursday against the Mariners. But, especially with an off day Tuesday providing cushion for the bullpen, the Padres felt no need to push Richards beyond 47 pitches as he showed he can still be a viable part of the teams’ plans going forward.
- In case you weren’t keeping track, with last night’s performance, Fernando Tatis Jr. has 45 runs scored in his last 46 games played.
- While this may not have been specifically how AJ Preller envisioned rebuilding the Padres, it was all part of his plan (at least, that’s according to Kevin Acee of the SD-UT; your opinion may vary). Over the last 72+ hours, Preller turned Yangervis Solarte into a back-end bullpen piece, Ian Kennedy into an everyday designated hitter, Franmil Reyes into a catcher and Andrew Cashner into a true No.1 starter, just like he turned James Shields into arguably the game’s most exciting player. Acee outlines how, ever since the 2014-15 offseason, Preller established a pattern of communication with his bosses, Executive Chairman Ron Fowler and General Partner Peter Seidler, that he could turn established Major Leaguers like James Shields and Craig Kimbrel into prospects that would either develop into Major Leaguers themselves, or net additional Major Leaguers in package deals. While it hasn’t always been easy (apparently, Fowler in particular must be convinced of certain deals, as he’s gifted at identifying potential downsides of deals from multiple angles, requiring Preller to establish an “escape hatch” as part of any plan). To wit:
Solarte was traded in 2016 for minor leaguer Edward Olivares, who was traded Saturday for Royals closer Trevor Rosenthal.
Ian Kennedy was allowed to leave as a free agent after the 2015 season and Hudson Potts was selected in the 2016 draft with the compensatory pick the Padres received. Potts was part of Sunday’s trade that got designated hitter/first baseman Mitch Moreland.
Franmil Reyes was sent to Cleveland last July in a trade that netted minor leaguer Taylor Trammell, who was part of a trade Sunday that brought catcher Austin Nola.
Andrew Cashner was the centerpiece of a trade with the Marlins in 2016 for OF Josh Naylor, who was part of a trade Monday that landed starting pitcher Mike Clevinger.
Like I said, just like Preller drew it up (cue eye rolls...).
- For those of you with an eye towards Padres history, nearly 40 years ago today, the Padres signed then 17-year old C Benito Santiago to a minor league deal out Puerto Rico back in 1982 (man, I’m getting old...). Though the deal initially received little notice in the public (the current prospect craze was still a ways off), Santiago was a hot commodity amongst teams. “We really had to fight for him,” Latin America scout Luis Rosa told the San Diego Union in the fall of 1983. “I tried him out for three hours one day in Puerto Rico, and when I took him home his mother said, ‘Two guys from another team were just here. They saw your tryout and presented a contract they wanted me to sign.’” Santiago would then spend 4 years in the Padres system before making his MLB debut in September 1986. The following year, the now 22-year old Santiago was named the NL Rookie of the Year after hitting .300/.324/.467 with 18 homers, 79 RBIs and 21 steals over 146 games in his first of 7 years in a Padres uniform. He’d go on to be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in 2015.
- Speaking of Rookies of the Year, the SD-UT also provides an in-depth look at current NL Rookie of the Year front-runner, 2B Jake Cronenworth. Coming out of St. Clair, MI, Cronenworth was initially seen as something between an afterthought or an potential two-way playing oddity when the Padres acquired him in a deal headlined by Tommy Pham and the departing Hunter Renfroe. Now however, Cronenworth is far from an afterthought, as he currently leads all NL rookies in OPS (1.034), batting average (.356), on-base percentage (.411), slugging (.624), RBIs (17) and runs scored (20) and tied for the lead with four homers. “Jake was born for this,” said longtime friend and current Detroit Tigers bullpen coach Jeremy Carrell. “These are the moments he’s been preparing for his entire life. It’s all been like one dress rehearsal after another and once he has a hold of something he doesn’t let go.”
That’s it for news and notes. The Padres have Tuesday off as they travel to Anaheim to start a 2-game set against the L.A. Angels on Wednesday. RHP Dinelson Lamet will take the hill against veteran RHP Julio Teheran, with the first pitch set for 1840 Eastern time.