Padres Making Noise in National League West

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Credit: USA Today Sports

The youthful San Diego Padres are making noise in the National League West. Here is a look at the rest of the division.

Although the Padres rented first place in the National League West for a brief time earlier this month, a six-game losing streak gave the Los Angeles Dodgers an opening.  Still, the Padres have a record of 14-11 and reside in second place in the division.

The last time San Diego sat above .500 (32-33), Buddy Black managed the team.  On June 16, he lost his job, and the Padres started their slide down the standings.  So far, the Padres have had a relatively easy schedule in terms of opponent, having faced teams with losing records like the Giants, Rockies, and Reds.  The team did manage to take two of three from the Cardinals, a long-time nemesis.

In the Mariners, the Padres faced their most daunting challenge so far, going against a team tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for most wins in all of baseball.  In the first game against Seattle, the Padres scored three runs in the first two innings, and it all started thanks to a bunt single by Wil Myers.  Timely hitting finally teamed up with the surprisingly sturdy starting pitching in a 6 to 3 victory.

Even more impressive, the Padres took the second game as well in a tight 1-0 victory.  Starting pitcher Chris Paddack finally got his first major league win, retiring the last 19 batters he faced.  The only run scored on a home run by Ian Kinsler in the second inning.

On Thursday the team will begin a road trip that includes stops in Washington D.C. and Atlanta, where both teams hover around .500.  Then the Dodgers (15-10) come to town followed by the New York Mets (13-10).

At the end of last season, most predictions for the 2019 season had the Padres fighting for last place against the San Francisco Giants.  But thanks to the arrival of Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr.’s call-up, and better results from the young rotation than  expected, the prognosticators have changed their estimation of the San Diego Padres:

FanGraphs

Dodgers

Padres

Rockies

Diamondbacks

Giants

 

RotoChamp

Dodgers

Diamondbacks

Padres

Rockies

Giants

 

Pecota

Dodgers

Rockies

Padres

Diamondbacks

Giants

 

FiveThirtyEight

Dodgers

Rockies

Diamondbacks

Padres

Giants

Because of the sheer number of games, the Padres’ fortunes could be decided by their performance against division rivals, so here’s a brief look at each teams’ strengths and weaknesses.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers have owned first place in the division for what seems like an eon and whether L.A. can repeat depends in large part on whether any of the other teams in the division can challenge their hegemony. For years, the bullies up I-5 have had their way with the home team.

Since the beginning of the season, the Dodgers have been operating on all cylinders.  In their first 24 games, the team’s hitters smashed 44 home runs.  First baseman Cody Bellinger leads the Dodgers in just about every offensive category with a .416 BA, .490 OBP, 11 home runs, and 28 RBI.  Joc Pederson has hit ten home runs and driven in 16 runs.  L.A. has welcomed back shortstop Corey Seager (.276/.370/.529/.899), who played only 26 games in 2018 thanks to elbow and hip surgeries. The team can rake, but what about the pitching?

Credit: Getty Images

The revised version of ace and workhorse Clayton Kershaw will never recapture his lost magic but remains a force. Presumed heir to Kershaw, Walker Buehler, has started the season with a 5.40 ERA and 1.20 WHIP but still managed to win two games with no losses.   In the meantime, Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling have stepped up and lead the team in innings pitched, wins (Maeda with three), ERA (Stripling 3.07), and strikeouts (Stripling 26).

Arizona Diamondbacks

When the Diamondbacks traded Paul Goldschmidt, their All-Star first baseman, and lost A.J. Pollock and Patrick Corbin during the offseason, it was assumed the team would try at least a mini rebuild.  Somehow, the message must not have filtered down. Starting pitcher Luke Weaver, who was acquired in the Goldschmidt trade, has begun to hit his stride (3.33 ERA, 2-1 record, 0.7 WAR). And don’t forget Zack Greinke, who leads the team with three wins.  Greinke has tormented the Padres so far, hitting a pair of homers against the Padres on April 2, following that up with two hits and two runs scored on April 14, and winning both games

First baseman Christian Walker leads the team with a .329/.393/.684/1.077 batting line and OPS+ of 169.  Center fielder Adam Jones, a San Diego native, has thrived in his move from Baltimore to the Valley of the Sun.  In 29 at-bats against the Padres this year he has a batting line of .310/.375/.517/.892.

The Diamondbacks have won seven of their last nine games, with a 2-1 victory over the Pirates.  Pittsburgh now trails the St. Louis Cardinals by two games in the National League Central with a 12-9 record.

Colorado Rockies

The past two years the Rockies have made it to the playoffs.  For a change, much of the credit lay in their pitching rather than hitting (even in Coors Field).  This year, the Rockies began the season winning two against the hapless Miami Marlins, then promptly lost 12 games out of the next thirteen games.

When they faced the Padres on April 15, they had a one-game winning streak and looked like easy pickings.  Instead, Colorado won both games.  The series against San Diego started a run of four wins and two losses against the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals.

Shortstop Trevor Story leads the Rockies with a .283 average and 15 RBI.  Surprisingly (considering half the games are played in Coors Field), Story also leads in home runs with just five.  Third baseman and defensive whiz Nolan Arenado has four home runs, four doubles, and 14 RBI so far.  Against San Diego, Arenado has a batting line of .333/.333/1.001/1.333.

Starting pitcher Jon Gray leads the team with two wins and 30 strikeouts.  In 32 innings German Marquez has a 2-1 record, 2.25 ERA and 0.97 WHIP.

(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

Thanks to the slow start the Rockies share the basement with San Francisco with ten wins and fourteen losses.

San Francisco Giants

And finally, the team picked by just about everyone to bring up the rear, the Giants… The team has a two-game winning streak with victories against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Toronto Blue Jays following four losses in a row.

Center fielder Steven Duggar leads the team with a dubious .229 BA and 22 hits.  First baseman Brandon Belt has hit five home runs and leads the team in OBP at .311.

Madison Bumgarner has a 1-3 record, 3.66 ERA (higher than his career average of 3.04), 0.97 WHIP. Dereck Rodriguez leads in wins  (three), Jeff Samardzija ERA (3.00), and Derek Holland in strikeouts (34).  The Padres started the season with a 2-0 win over Bumgarner and followed up on April 8 with a 6-5 victory.

This year the more important action by the Giants may be in the front office.  In November Farhan Zaidi, a veteran of the Oakland A’s and Dodgers’ front offices, became the head of baseball operations in San Francisco.  Since Bruce Bochy, long-time Giant’s manager and former Padres’ player and skipper, will retire after this season, Zaidi will preside over momentous changes.

Thanks to their sweep of the Mariners, the Padres will leave town with the confidence that the team can go head to head with the best.  When they return, they’ll have a chance to face off against the best in the West.  If the Padres can actually compete against L.A., this hot start may turn into a trend.

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Diane Calkins
Baseball has been a part of Diane's life since her father played professionally (mostly at the minor league level). She has written for a number of publications and concentrated on companion animal welfare. She welcomes the opportunity to write about the sport she loves. Diane shares her home with her husband and a house full of rescued animals.

8 thoughts on “Padres Making Noise in National League West

  1. Another fine article,Diane….though you took a couple in the ribs with those brutal comments….I’m looking forward to the next road trip…DC and ATL will be serious tests for this young club, and finally seeing the Dodgers will be another major challenge…I’m still waiting for the offence to be somewhat consistent. but I’m encouraged with the pitching, especially Paddock…..if the boys finish April above 500….I’m going to be very confident that this club can contend for a wild card spot…..keep ’em coming, Diane…I enjoy your writing….😃 Paul.

    1. Hi Paul,
      Great to get your feedback. We’ll certainly know more about this team after those series against Nationals, Braves, and Dodgers.
      Thanks for reading,
      Diane

  2. AJ and Green plus ownership will always be held accountable and should be. They have made some positives but with the current make up of the entire organization, there still are holes in the plan to have a strong team ready to compete year in year out. Lack of LH hitters in positions we could actually play them at. Other than Paddack, no other RH starters who are close to the majors. Lamet and Richards both are coming back over the next 12 months from serious injuries, there is NO assurances they will regain their past level of pitching. The latest couple of items that has came up, Espinoza going down with severe elbow problems again, and not offering the Marlins another arm which we had many for Luis Castillo when Rea went down and reversed that trade. We have nearly an entire major league team of RH hitters plus Hosmer, and 4 LH starters with our Top 2 starters in the minors being LH also. At some point current players will have to be moved to fill in these HOLES. Until those are made I will remain being critical of the Owners, GM, and Manager.

    1. Hello SDDon,
      Always appreciate your comments. We’re all held accountable in our own jobs, etc., so there’s no reason that Preller and Green shouldn’t be. EVT isn’t a fan club.
      Diane

  3. While there are still elements of your “sky is falling” writing style; I have to acknowledge you can write a piece that could be perceived as complementary. For all your Preller bashing, you would think you could do the same. Both Andy and AJ have stated publically they arent surprised with the early success of Nick Margevicius, Chris Paddack, and Matt Strahm. It was the plan all along to challenge and push.

    1. “Andy and AJ”? Like what, they are your barbecue buddies?
      If you will reread the article you might notice that it’s focus was in fact NOT the Padres, but the other teams in our division.
      As for the “sky is falling” thing, you need to check your meds. It is possible to be a fan and still be an adult about analyzing both the good and the bad.

      1. Thanks for reading and commenting Tom. It is possible to be both a fan and a critic. There’s good reason for Padres’ fans to have a healthy degree of skepticism.
        Diane

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