The San Diego Padres took three out of four from the San Francisco Giants to start of the year, but expectations should be still be checked as the team begins a new chapter.
Coming in into the season most sports pundits had the Padres pitching as the softest part of the team, with the starting rotation pointed out in particular.
But after the first series, this young staff showed a glimpse of what they can do.
However, there is a long season ahead and the dog days of summer are nowhere in sight. Many of the young players have never played in as many games in a season as they will this year with the Padres. After a series like they just had against the division rival San Francisco Giants, expectations around town are bound to rise. And rightfully so, but this was the 2019 version of the San Francisco Giants, not the 2012 version. While the Giants may have some quality pitching, they are nowhere near the staff, or team for that matter, like the Dodgers or Phillies.
There is no denying the team has gotten off to a great start. The Friars are over .500 for the first time since June of 2015 and won the series opener for the first time since 2011 when they took two out of three from the St. Louis Cardinals. There were many positives they can take and build off, but there were some areas that came up short and being able to drive in runs with men on base is at the top of the list.
Twenty-four baserunners were stranded against the Giants with sixteen of those coming in the last two games. Scoring twelve runs in a four-game series just won’t be enough against the better teams in the league. It’s a small sample size, and we will have to wait and see how things go against the Diamondbacks as they come into town for a three-game set.
Still, the team showed an almost child-like exuberance right from the start and held it for the better part of the series. Much of it is emitting from that stud rookie shortstop Fernando Tatis, Jr. He, along with Manny Machado, have brought a lighter, more jovial approach to the game and you can see it has spread throughout the clubhouse. No matter what, this season will no doubt be different from the recent ones we have seen at Petco.
The young starters pitched well, and it is exciting to see them get such a significant jump to, in some cases not just their season but their careers. But San Diego is in the earliest of stages of the 2019 campaign, and it is important to remember where the Padres are in the process A.J. Preller started a few years back. Despite the strong starts all five starters have had, there still is a need for a proven pitcher who can take the rock every five days. Whether by trade or signing alone of the few remaining free agents, this will need to be addressed at some point. It’s hard to imagine these five starters will be the same ones at the end of the year. This is simply due to the lack of endurance at this point of their carriers. Particularly Chris Paddack, who is still coming off a recent Tommy John surgery, Nick Margevicius who’s never pitched more than 135 innings in a season and converted reliever Matt Strahm, who has yet to pitch.
Overall, though, we got to see for the first time in a long time a Padres team that genuinely loves to play the game of baseball with each other and one that is hungry and expects to win now. As the youngest team in baseball, they may be too inexperienced to know when they have bitten off more than they can chew and that can be a good thing. The team wasn’t expected to do many great things this year, but they have already shown that they are not the same old Padres.