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Four observations from the first quarter of the Padres season

The Padres are 41 games in. What do you think of the team right now?

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

It feels like it was yesterday that the San Diego Padres blew out the Atlanta Braves in their home opener but that actually was over five weeks ago. Bob Melvin’s squad is 27-14 through their first 41 games despite being without Fernando Tatis Jr.

Since we are at the quarter mark of the regular season, here are four observations about what I’ve seen from the Friars.

Musgrove is determined to get a big pay day

If the Padres thought Joe Musgrove was going to accept their $11 million per year extension offer, they’re crazy. The 29-year-old is set to hit free agency at the end of the season and his stock only continues to rise.

The only discount the Padres are going to get is if they get an extension done and even then, it’s not going to be a large discount. He’s headed for a $20+ million AAV contract and it’s up to the Padres to make that offer.

The Padres have won every game he’s started, as he has yet to allow more than three runs or pitch less than six innings in a start. FanGraphs currently has Musgrove worth $11.2 million in their value metric so if he keeps this up, he’s going to be worth $40+ million at season’s end.

Manny is the man

With Tatis out for the first few months of the season, it was important for Manny Machado to get off to a hot start and he hasn’t just gotten off to a hot start— it’s been a scorching hot start. A start that is the best in Padres history (batting average wise) since Tony Gwynn in 1994.

Machado is the clear National League MVP right now and he isn’t just being valuable at the plate. He currently owns a 3.5 defensive WAR, according to FanGraphs, which is 0.1 WAR away from having the best defensive WAR among NL third basemen.

A season altering Opening Day trade

The Padres looked like they were going with the closer by committee to start the season. That was until A.J. Preller decided to pull off a trade hours before rosters needed to be finalized, trading Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan to the Minnesota Twins for Taylor Rogers, $6.6 million and outfield prospect Brent Rooker.

Paddack made five starts this year for Minnesota before having his season end due to a second Tommy John surgery. And while Pagan has a 2.13 ERA right now, Rogers’ ERA is 0.49 and he leads the league in saves (16). Mark Melancon, who was San Diego’s closer last year, currently owns a 7.53 ERA with a negative WAR for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

If Preller didn’t acquire Rogers on Opening Day, it’s safe to say the Padres wouldn’t have 27 wins at the moment.

This team is different

The headline might be a little misguiding. I don’t mean that this 2022 team as a whole is different than last year’s team. It’s too early to say that, especially when it comes to the offense and the bullpen.

When I say this team is different, I’m talking about the rotation. Last season there were injuries all over the place. Vince Velasquez and Jake Arrieta were starting games at one point. But while there have been a couple injuries already in the rotation, it hasn’t killed the team. MacKenzie Gore and Nick Martinez can fill in and provide five or six innings of one run ball.

Yu Darvish, Sean Manaea and Joe Musgrove seem like they’re putting together quality start after quality start, which helps save the bullpen and has kept the offense in games when it isn’t hitting on all cylinders.

As Lauren Shehadi told me last Friday, “it starts and ends on the mound” and the Padres have the ability to steal games other teams can’t because their pitching is so talented.

Reader Question

What are your takeaways from the Padres 41 games into the season?