Good morning, Padres fans, and welcome to the final week of the regular season. Our Padres begin a 2-game set today against the Angels before taking another off-day to travel to San Francisco, where they will close out the season against the Giants. Here’s the relevant news and notes as the Friars barrel on towards their first taste of the post-season since 2006.
- Mark Feinsand of MLB.com lays out the case for 3B Manny Machado as the NL MVP. While Feinsand notes that young phenom Fernando Tatis Jr. took the baseball world by storm during the first month of the season, it’s been Machado who has propelled the team to the 2nd best record in the NL. Since 19 August, Machado has slashed .398/.424/.761 with 11 homers and 33 RBIs while also recording more extra-base hits than Ks (18 to 12). Coincidentally, the team went 21-8 in that stretch, and Machado won back-to-back NL Player of the Week Awards. On the year, Machado ranks in the Top 5 in the NL in home runs, RBIs, runs scored and total bases, and also boasts a top-10 batting average, slugging percentage, OPS, extra-base hits, defensive runs saved and position-adjusted fielding. Safe to say, Machado has earned some consideration for the award.
- With all that said, the player that won’t get a whole lot of love from the national media for MVP, but may be the most deserving, is RF Wil Myers. Myers’ OPS hasn’t dropped below .829 since game 1 of the season and has been above .900 since game 10. He’s been hitless in back-to-back games just once this season and his 3-run homer in the 6th inning Sunday would have been viewed as perhaps the biggest homer of the year had it stood as the game-winning blast in the postseason clincher. Instead, it’s maybe a half-notch below the walk-off three-run blast to cap last month’s improbable two-out rally against the Mariners. Myers ranks 3rd behind Machado (16) and Tatis (15) with 14 homers and 3rd in RBIs with 38, but his .624 slugging percentage is tops on the team and steadier than anyone during the 60-game season.
- Kevin Acee of the SD-UT breaks down just how Padres GM AJ Preller built the club that finally ended San Diego’s playoff drought. Contrary to popular opinion, Acee reveals how Preller didn’t simply use a computer to build the current roster, and instead leveraged a variety of sources and input over the course of years to acquire talent, as well as an uncanny ability to convince ownership to open their wallets when necessary. Those sources include (but are not limited to): senior adviser Logan White; former Rays GM and scout Chuck LaMar; scout Keith Boeck; R&D (analytics) analyst Dave Cameron; international scouting director Chris Kemp; amateur scouting director Mark Conner; professional scouting director Pete DeYoung; director of baseball operations Nick Ennis; and assistant GMs Josh Stein and Fred Uhlman Jr., among many others. These are the voices Preller listened to when acquiring C Aaron Nola (who apparently Dave Cameron kept bugging him about and pro scouting manager Preston Mattingly’s dad, Don Mattingly (AKA manager of the Marlins) vouched for); 2B Jake Cronenworth (who several of his scouts insisted was going to be better than people expected); CF Trent Grisham (who Preller and his staff believed was for real and got in exchange for 2B Luis Urias, who they no longer were certain about); and of course SS Fernando Tatis Jr., who Nick Ennis, after seeing the current star a 17-year-old, said, “He could be a big piece for us down the road,” among many others. Read the whole article for the breakdown; it’s got some great tidbits in there.
- While the team may be playoff bound, that doesn’t mean Preller doesn’t have doubts about his moves. Specifically discussing dealing good players, Preller brought up dealing Trea Turner, Franmil Reyes, Max Fried and Yasmani Grandal — four players who are having success elsewhere. “We’ll trade good players,” he said. “Other teams see that we’re not trying to pilfer them. … I’m OK trading good players if it fits what we’re trying to do.” Preller talked about conversations he has had with longtime GMs who have traded away players who went on to be Hall of Famers, and the mindset a GM needs to focus on the potential for success and what the end game is.
- Padres manager Jayce Tingler also discussed who might be the starter for game 1 of the NL Wild Card series. The conversation is coming down to 2 RHPs: Mike Clevinger, or Dinelson Lamet. Tingler pointed out that clinching on Sunday was “appropriate certainly with Lamet on the mound.” Lamet has been the team’s best starter this year (and one of the few pre-Preller Padres remaining), though Clevinger has the postseason experience. The decision might come down to who is the most healthy, especially considering Clevinger’s recent biceps issue.
- Even with the on-going pandemic, baseball continues to roll on. BaseballAmerica.com reports that MLB will allow all 15 teams that have spring training facilities in Arizona to play each other in the Arizona Instructional League, with games beginning 05 October. While the number of games each team plays will vary (some teams won’t begin playing games until 14 OCT, and the Athletics, White Sox, Reds, and Indians will all wrap up on 31 OCT). The Padres will be one of the most aggressive teams, conducting not only Fall Instructs, but also playing games starting 05 OCT, and going until 14 November. Additionally, the Padres will double up games on a number of dates, allowing them to play more than twice the number of games that some teams are playing. The Padres will send about 54 players to this year’s fall instructional league, the first real semblance of minor league action since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the game in mid-March, and will play games against the Dodgers, Mariners, Royals and Rangers farm hands. The Padres have not yet announced their roster.
That’s it for today. RHP Zach Davies (7-3, 2.69 ERA, 55 Ks) will take the hill against the Angels’ RHP Griffin Canning (1-3, 4.29 ERA, 46 Ks) today at Petco Park. Davies, the team’s likely game 3 starter in the playoffs, has been outstanding this year largely due to an increased use of his change-up; opponents are batting only .186 against the pitch this year. Canning is coming off a solid start against the D-backs, throwing 5 innings and allowing 2 runs (1 ER) and posting a 3.57 ERA over his past 4 starts, recording 23 Ks in 22.2 innings.
GO PADRES!!! RESPECT SAN DIEGO!!!