The San Diego Padres are a team in crisis. They came into the season as World Series Contenders, and now they are struggling to keep a wildcard spot. The whole season they have not put every piece together at the same time. Initially, it was the starting pitching that struggled. The one bright spot was Yu Darvish. Unfortunately, Darvish struggled against as the Padres lost the series opener to the San Francisco Giants by a score of 9-1.
Now Yu Darvish is the face of starting pitcher struggles while teammates like Blake Snell have bounced back. In Darvish’s last seven starts, he has a 7.86 ERA. Monday was one of the worst starts of his storied career. In just four innings of work, he gave up eight runs, with five of those coming in the first frame. You would have to go back to his days as a Texas Ranger to find a worse outing when he once allowed 10 earned runs to the Marlins.
The Giants got at him quickly. Tommy La Stella, a player with 35 career home runs, started it off with a home run. Two more extra-base hits came in the first inning. LaMonte Wade tripled to score Darin Ruf. Then Evan Longoria hit a two-run home run to give the Giants a fast two-run lead. But it was not the long ball that killed Darvish. He beat himself by failing to command his pitches. In the first inning, he threw 29 total pitches. Nearly half of them resulted in a ball (14).
One likely option for his struggles is a lingering back injury. His ERA had started to climb, leading up to a 10-day IL stint. Since returning from the IL, his ERA only continued to rise. He had a 3.70 ERA after his last start before the injury. That has now ballooned to 4.32.
“Just didn’t have the overall command. Didn’t have the finish to what he usually has with the slider and cutter. (He) tried to go into some of the lefties, and early on, a couple of them backed up. They were obviously out over the plate and got beat with the long ball tonight. The lack of feel, of command overall, but health-wise, he is good.”
Pitching wasn’t the only problem for the Padres. A team with World Series aspirations needs both good pitchers and good hitters. On Monday, the Giants in a bullpen game held them to just one run. This is the same offense that had four infielders go to the All-Star game this season.
— Bally Sports San Diego (@BallySportsSD) September 14, 2021
Outside of that, the team just couldn’t string together any hits. They had 11 hard-hit balls, but that only produced three extra-base hits.
This team looks lost. Big changes are inevitable this offseason, but something needs to change now if they want to make the playoffs. The Giants, on the other hand, clinched a playoff spot with the victory.