Welp, that didn’t go as planned.
The Padres’ bullpen day did not go as planned, as your Friars lost the game and the series to the Dodgers last night, 7-5. The team ran through 5 pitchers in the first 4 innings, giving up 3 runs, and eventually used 9 total arms in the game. LHP Adrian Morejon got the start and largely did well in his 2+ innings of work, at one point recording 3 straight strikeouts before giving up a home run to AJ Pollock. Morejon then entered the 3rd inning, and after what was ruled a fielding error by 2B Jake Cronenworth allowed Gavin Lux to reach, he was pulled in favor of RHP Dan Altavilla, who faced the minimum 3 batters and got 2 outs before making way for the returning LHP Joey Lucchesi. If I’m being generous, Lucchesi showed some rust in his first official appearance after returning from a month-long stay at the Alt Site. He promptly gave up a double and a single before getting the final out of the inning. RHP Luis Perdomo then followed, giving up 2 runs. LHP Tim Hill pitched all of 0.2 innings, also giving up 1 run. RHP Garrett Richards (more on that below) came in and gave up 1 run in 1 inning of work, before the true professionals, RHPs Craig Stammen, Pierce Johnson, and Emilio Pagan came in for the 7th-9th innings, each throwing 1 perfect inning and recording a K a piece.
The mostly poor pitching spoiled a good day from the offense. After disappearing during the previous game, the Padres offense showed up, scoring 5 runs across 9 innings. C Jason Castro tied the game early with an RBI double in the 2nd inning, scoring RF Wil Myers. Apparently, that’s all he can hit in a Padres uniform. Since he was acquired at the trade deadline, Castro has 4 hits, all of them doubles.
LF Jurickson Profar continued his run of solid performance. He took Dustin May DEEP for a 2 run homer in the 7th inning after May grooved a fastball down the middle. Profar would also single in the 9th inning, driving home another run to finish 2-3 with 1 R, 3 RBI, and 1 BB, raising his average to .270 on the year with an OPS of .777, which is incredibly impressive when you consider how horrid he was to start the year.
3B Manny Machado then followed in the 8th inning with a homer of his own, his 14th on the year. Machado finished 2-4 on the day, raising his average to .314 and an OPS of .970 on the year (19th multi-hit game of the season).
Fernando Tatis Jr. continues to struggle (maybe pressing a bit?), posting his 2nd ever 0-4 game in his young career, though he did make a stellar defensive play early.
Overall, a lackluster performance from the Good Guys. Let’s get into news and notes.
- For all the strides the team’s made this season, it still stung to drop both the series and the season series to the Dodgers. Even then though, the team does see some silver linings: “Obviously they won the series today, and they won the series on the year,” said Padres manager Jayce Tingler. “... But every game, for the most part, has been very competitive, could go either way. I think we can go toe-to-toe with them.” The team believes that they have the starters to match up with the Dodgers in a playoff series, as they believe Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet are easily a match for any of L.A.’s arms. Add in the animosity the 2 teams have for each other, and you can be sure each team will fight tooth and nail. “It doesn’t matter who you play,” Tingler said. “They’re going to be hard-fought games, and they’re going to be hard series to win. We want to be a part of that.”
- Tingler also was asked about Fernando Tatis Jr. and his recent struggles. Tingler doubted that fatigue is playing a factor, but hazarded it may be more that the young phenom is trying to do too much. “I don’t think he’s tired,” Tingler said. “I think he’s just going through a little pocket, maybe trying to do too much at times. I think he’s going to be in a position to get extremely hot for us down the stretch.” Tatis has been chasing far more pitches of late. 3 of his outs yesterday were made on swings at pitches outside the strike zone. After chasing just 23.8% of the time in his first 43 games, he has chased at a 41.6% rate in the past 8 games. Tatis also leads MLB with 225 plate appearances and has played the 3rd-most innings (414.1) of any shortstop.
- As mentioned above, RHP Garrett Richards came in to provide an inning of relief pitching. While AJ Cassavell tweeted the move was just to get a look at Richards in a different role, given the length of time until Richards’ next start (at the earliest, Richards wouldn’t start until next Tuesday), in post-game comments, manager Jayce Tingler announced that’s where Richards will stay, likely at least through the Wild-Card round. “Obviously he’s got to figure out how quick it takes him to warm up and everything that goes into it,” Tingler said, “but we think he’s got a chance, with his arsenal, to be somewhat dominant down there for us.” Apparently, he’ll need the time to figure some things out: Despite uncorking fastballs topping 98 MPH (a full MPH better than he’s thrown to that point on the year), Richards’ 5th pitch left the yard, traveling an estimated 426 feet.
- Also of note, the 9 pitchers the team used yesterday was a team record for a 9 inning game. According to Bob Scanlan, the Padres have used 10 pitchers in a game once, but that was across 18 innings, back on 07 June 2009. Credit also to recent acquisition Jason Castro, who caught all 9 pitchers yesterday. Additionally, yesterday’s performance broke a string of great bullpen pitching performances. In the 13 games leading up to yesterday, the bullpen had a 1.54 ERA after posting a 5.20 ERA in the first 37 games on the year.
- Wil Myers has an extra-base hit in 4 straight games. It is the 8th time he has done that in his career but the 1st since 2018. His career long extra-base streak is 6 games.
- An interesting development yesterday was the appearance of C Francisco Mejia in yesterday’s game. Mejia, who had been down at the alternate site the last few weeks following some time on the IL (and where he also played some left field), was activated prior to the game. Normally a switch-hitter, he came in and batted right-handed against L.A.’s RHP Pedro Baez. No word on whether this is a permanent change, as Jayce Tingler only said, “He’s been at USD and working on things. Right now his right-handed swing feels really good.”
- In injury news, LHP Matt Strahm (knee) threw his first bullpen since landing on the injured list Friday. 1B Eric Hosmer hit on the field for the second day in a row since fracturing his left index finger on Sept. 7. The batted balls in the extended round, which included at least one home run to ball to right field, were noticeably harder hit. “I thought his swings were really good,” Tingler said. “I thought the way the ball was coming off the bat was very similar to the pre-injury of the finger. We were super encouraged today with how he swung the bat. Still a couple more things to be done, but I think the most important thing is he continues to make great strides going forward and hopefully we can get him back in here soon.”
- The Padres expect to hear today when they will make up the 2nd of the 2 games against the Giants that were postponed last week. The assumption is they will play a doubleheader Sept. 25, the 1st day of their season-ending three-game series in San Francisco.
- In another sign of optimism, MLB released the 2021 Spring Training schedule on Wednesday. The Padres will open the Cactus league with their annual charity game on 27 FEB. It will start a run of 31 spring training games for the team, with Opening Day set for 01 April at Petco Park against Arizona. Hopefully by then, us fans will be allowed in, in some capacity.
- Despite the loss yesterday, the Padres’ magic number to clinch a playoff spot dropped to 3. They can clinch 2nd place in the NL West with any combination of 5 wins by them or losses by the Giants.
That’s it for news and notes. The Padres have today off, and will start a 3-game series against the Mariners on Friday. Of note, the team delayed it’s flight to Seattle by a day (from Wednesday to today) due to smoke from the on-going fires in the Seattle region. While the teams expect the series will be played as scheduled at T-Mobile Park, it is possible the series could move to Petco Park. In either event, the Padres will send out RHP Chris Paddack (3-4, 4.74 ERA, 52 Ks) for his first start since leaving the game against the Giants on 10 September early with an ankle injury. He’ll face-off against LHP Yusei Kikuchi (2-3, 5.35 ERA, 39 Ks).
First pitch currently set for 1840 Pacific on Friday, though look out for possible changes announced later today.