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Padres Round-up 9/23/20

Still need some fine-tuning before the playoffs.

Los Angeles Angels v San Diego Padres
Can’t quite get him.
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

That wasn’t quite what we were looking for.

The Padres may be heading to the postseason for the first time in 14 years, but if last night was any indication, they still need to fine-tune some things before they get there. The Pads dropped the game to the Angels last night, losing 4-2. RHP Zach Davies took the loss, despite pitching fairly well. Davies went 6 innings, giving up 7 hits, 3 BBs, and 3 earned runs with 5 Ks. Davies fell victim to the long ball, giving up 2 homers, both to the Angels’ Max Stassi. At least he made Mike Trout look silly:

The story of the game, though, was the ineffective Padres offense. Despite being one of MLB’s best offesive teams this season, the Pads have been in rut lately, hitting a collective .194 and a .303 OBP over the last 6 games. It showed last night: the team went only 1-7 with runners in scoring position and K’d 13 times; in fact, the team only had 2 hits before the 8th inning. The struggles at the plate were illustrated early, when in the 1st inning the team loaded the bases with no outs, they only managed to score 1 run, off an Eric Hosmer sac fly. 3B Manny Machado continued to hit, at least. He drove in the team’s only other run on the game, lining a shot down the 3B line in the 8th inning, allowing CF Trent Grisham to come around and score.

With the loss, the Padres magic number to clinch home field in the Wild Card round remains at 2. The team can clinch that as soon as Wednesday with a win and a Cardinals loss.

Let’s get into news and notes:

  • With only a few games remaining, the team’s main aim is being rested and ready. However, that comes after a bigger priority: clinching the #4 seed, and thereby securing home field for the Wild Card round. “We control our destiny with being able to lock down the 4th spot,” manager Jayce Tingler said Tuesday afternoon. “That’s important because we want to play here in our ballpark.”
  • While the team is focused on clinching home field for the Wild Card round, they also understand the need to get their offense going again. “Before tonight, for sure, I could definitely feel the group pressing, maybe just wanting it a little bit too much,” Tingler said. “I was hoping tonight we would relax a little bit and settle in to some more at-bats.” With that, the team hopes to get 1B Eric Hosmer and LF Tommy Pham hitting again. While both players returned from the IL this weekend, they do not look close to their old selves: they combined to go 0-for-6 with 5 Ks and a walk on Tuesday. “It’s going to come with the consistent at-bats and getting back into the flow,” Tingler said. “... Nothing can really replicate the speed of the game — the breaking balls, the sliders that you see at this level. Tommy with his hand and Hoz with the finger, we know it’s going to take a couple games to get in the real flow of it. That’s why these at-bats are so valuable right now.”
  • Pham and Hosmer are not the only players getting a “try-out” of sorts last night. Tingler spent the final 3 innings auditioning 4 relievers he might use in October. RHP Austin Adams made his Padres debut, recording a scoreless 7th despite giving up a walk and a hit. RHPs Craig Stammen and Pierce Johnson combined to work the 8th, with Johnson getting Mike Trout to strike out for the 2nd time in the game. Then, RHP Garrett Richards worked a scoreless 9th, getting all 3 batters he faced to fly out. Tingler was especially impressed with Richards, saying “Tonight was his best one so far. He came in, threw strikes and worked his slider into the first batter and had a really good feel for that. Obviously the fastball was playing well, too. Every time he’s done it so far, I think each time he’s gotten a little more comfortable.”
  • As for Zach Davies, while he wasn’t at his best last night, he did work yet another quality start and has seemingly set himself up to be the team’s 3rd starter in the playoffs. “He’s certainly been trustworthy and consistent,” Tingler said. “Honestly, when you’re managing and coaching, that’s really all you could ask for. You feel like you know what you’re going to get. We’ve got a lot of confidence with him on the mound.” Barring something unforeseen, Davies would likely follow Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet in the postseason rotation. He pitched an inning of postseason relief for Milwaukee in 2018, so it would be Davies’ 1st career playoff start should the series go 3 games.
  • Cue the ominous music: For the first time since 13 SEP, the team in the #5 spot in the National League standings is not the Marlins; it’s the Cardinals. The Padres old play-off nemesis moved ahead of the Marlins. If things continue as they currently stand, the Padres would host the Cardinals in the Wild Card round, with the first game set for 30 SEP (I know, I don’t like it either).
  • As mentioned above, RHP Austin Adams made his Padres debut last night. He got into, and then out of trouble, as he allowed Angels #2 hitter Jared Walsh to single off the shift on a slider left in the middle of the zone, then walked Mike Trout before striking out Anthony Rendon, getting Albert Pujols on a fly ball to left field and striking out Justin Upton. Both strikeouts came on sliders. “I was hoping for a little softer landing spot,” Tingler said. “He’s got to be thrown in there and get going. … It’s been a while since he’s been in this setting. It was good for him tonight to get out there and get through his inning without giving up a run. Hopefully, he gets a little more comfortable and (gets over) some of the nerves and the anxiety (after) the long layoff. He’s got real weapons. I think the more we can get him out there, the quicker he’s going to be progressing.”
  • While it’s almost assured the Padres will roll with Mike Clevinger, Dinelson Lamet, and Zach Davies as their starters in the Wild Card round, RHP Chris Paddack remains an option. In his last start, Paddack allowed only 1 hit in 6 shutout innings in his last start. The belief remains that, barring changes, Paddack would pitch out of the bullpen in the event that a starter falters. Dinelson Lamet is currently set to start the playoff opener on a regular 4 days’ rest.
  • Grisham was 0-for-1 with 3 walks and scored both Padres runs last night. He extended his career-long on-base streak to 16 games. He has a .422 OBP during the run.
  • Fernando Tatis Jr. has gone 46 at-bats without a home run. His previous high this season was 31 at-bats.
  • Rookie Jake Cronenworth was in danger of having his batting average dip below .300 for the first time since he began his career 1-for-4 back in July. He went 1-for-3 last night and sits at .304. Without the single, he would have been hitting .297 for the season.
  • As noted by johnjprecoda in yesterday’s Round-up, the Padres optioned LHP Joey Lucchesi to the alt site, bringing back in LHP Matt Strahm. Strahm had a 1.76 ERA in his first 13 appearances (15.1 innings) before allowing 3 runs in his past 4 games (3.2 innings). His only 3 walks of the season have come in his past 3 outings. Strahm jammed his knee trying to making a defensive play against the Dodgers on 10 AUG.

That’s it for today. RHP Mike Clevinger (3-2, 3.10 ERA, 38 Ks)will make his belated start today, facing off against the Angels’ RHP Jaime Barria (1-0, 3.26 ERA, 27 Ks). Strahm suffered a minor biceps issue prior to his scheduled start on Saturday, but he threw a bullpen Monday with no issues. Clevinger is lined up to start Game 2 of the Wild Card series, at least currently.

Game time is set for 1310 Pacific at Petco Park.