The San Diego Padres have been playing some good baseball lately.
Yes, really. After coming off of their first winning month since July 2017 with a solid 15-13 month of May, the Padres have been hot lately, starting off June 3-2 and winning six of their last eight games. While a majority of last week’s wins came from the bottom feeders of the National League in the Miami Marlins and Cincinnati Reds, the Padres came away with an impressive 11-4 slugging of the NL-East leading Atlanta Braves Monday night.
With how they’ve been playing recently, this begs the question: Are the Padres thinking playoffs?
After their truly abysmal start that had Padres fans wishfully thinking for the first pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, San Diego has turned it around and taken advantage of the poor play throughout the National League West. Thanks to the Arizona Diamondbacks sputtering horribly in May, as well as the Los Angeles Dodgers losing Corey Seager and Clayton Kershaw for extended periods of time, no team has run away with the division lead, with Arizona still leading the way at 32-28 (For reference, the D-Backs started 21-8). After all that, the Padres (who still sit in last place) are a mere 5.5 games back of the division lead, and are a couple of Brad Hand early season blown saves away from being right there.
While it’s certainly a rare sight to see the Padres this close to the division leaders this deep into a season, this could be San Diego’s chance to make some waves. While nobody expects the Padres to be in the division race in late July, again the question begs: What if? If the Padres are only, say, 2-5 games back when the trade deadline rolls around, should they be buyers and try to expedite their rebuild, while potentially jeopardizing their future? (Keep in mind, Wil Myers and Austin Hedges would in all likelihood be back and healthy by this time)
If A.J. Preller really does believe that he can turn the Padres around and make them contenders in 2018, he should do so. A good example of this is the Minnesota Twins, who were truly awful in 2016 before a huge turnaround that saw them claim the 5th seed in the American League, before losing to the New York Yankees in the Wild Card Game last October. The Padres are seemingly on a similar track as Minnesota was, but if they really are going to make a push for the playoffs, they’re going to need to acquire a starter, and give up some of their young talent to do so. Would San Diego be willing to part with an Adrian Morejon or a Chris Paddack (as well as some other valuable pieces) in return for a solid top of the rotation starter?
The Padres have a rare opportunity to climb back into the postseason, and for a fanbase that has been starved of success for the past decade, this could be the appropriate time to do so. Even though nobody expects the Padres to be in the thick of the NL West race in the last two months of the season, it sure would be something to follow if they were playing meaningful baseball games in August and September. More importantly, however, is going to be how the Padres fare in June, with just ten of their 27 games coming at home this month (as well as just four of the final 21). But, if they can make it to the MLB All-Star Break in this same position (or better), the Padres might just surprise some people.