Ending the first half on high note for Padres

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

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Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Although the San Diego Padres languish in fourth place in the National League West, the team went into the All-Star break on a mini streak. Since the beginning of July, the Pads have won six games and lost just two.

On Sunday, pitchers, batters, and defenders were on a roll and beat Max Scherzer and the New York Mets. During his 18-year career, he has a 7-3 record against the Padres, 2.76 ERA, 0.910 WHIP. Petco Park suits him fine—in seven games, he’s 3-1. But this time, the Padres chased Scherzer in the sixth after he gave up six hits, three walks, and five earned runs. Joe Musgrove gave up just three hits and struck out five in six innings, then turned it over to the bullpen for the win.

Despite their recent success, the Padres still languish 8.5 games back and in fourth place in the West at 43-47 behind the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, and Arizona Diamondbacks.

For the most part, the pitchers have done their jobs. Bleacher Report’s midseason rankings of starters put the Padres ninth, ahead of the New York Yankees. Closer Josh Hader has been ready when called and has an ERA of 1.11.

Michael Wacha leads the Padres in wins (8) and ERA (2.84). Since Memorial Day, Blake Snell has stifled opponents with a 0.64 ERA. Snell, the National League Pitcher of the Month in June, averaged 96.6 mph on his fastball and mixed in his curve, slider, and changeup–striking out 11 in six innings against the Phillies last Saturday. Joe Musgrove is 7-2 in 73.1 innings, with a 3.56 ERA and 1.20 WHIP.

Unfortunately, Wacha has been on the Il thanks to shoulder inflammation. When healthy, he continues to affirm his value–(8-2 record , 1.07 WHIP, 2.84 ERA). Manager Bob Melvin remarked that his velocity had been “a bit down…Probably the timing is good to be able to do this for him. I think the timing of it with the All-Star break is the prudent thing to do.”

Overall, Padres pitchers rank 16th in the National League in ERA (.378), not far behind the first-place Atlanta Braves at 3.68. San Diego ranks 6th in WHIP at 1.244. The Minnesota Twins rank first at 1.165.

Credit: Padres

The offense has definitely not performed at the level of the pitching staff. Third baseman Manny Machado got off to a slow start, exacerbated by a fractured third metacarpal. However, he’s batted .261/.307/.458/.765 in 74 games and is just behind Fernando Tatis Jr. with 15 home runs and first in RBI at 49. No doubt the break gave him a bit of recovery time.

The front office added shortstop Xander Bogaerts in the offseason, which moved Ha-Seong Kim to second and Jake Cronenworth to first. Kim is batting .258, wRC+ 113, WAR 3.0, but Cronenworth’s average has dipped to .217, wRC+ 90, WAR 0.2. Bogaert’s batting average of .253 is the lowest since his second season in Boston in 2014.

In general, the Padres’ offense exhibits the same flaws as last year, including leaving runners in scoring position–this year, 25th 3.63. In team run differential, the Padres rank seventh at +39.0, far below the leaders Tampa Bay Rays +149.0, Texas Rangers +148.0, and the Atlanta Braves +147.0.

The Padres may be third in payroll, but the the Tampa Bay Rays 28th, Texas Rangers 9th, the Atlanta Braves 8th  are proving yet again that it’s not all about money. The Rays have won 58 games and lost 35, second to the Atlanta Braves at 60-29.

Just before the break, San Diego definitely showed signs of life. In the last game against the New York Mets, Manny Machado drove in five and Trent Grisham one. Joe Musgrove pitched six scoreless innings. Although Adrian Morejon gave up two runs, Tim Hill and Tom Cosgrove put up zeros for the 6-2 win.

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On Friday, the Padres will travel to Philadelphia to play the Phillies–third place in the East at 44-39. Yu Darvish is scheduled to pitch the first game. In seven starts against the Phillies, he has an ERA of 2.23.

Tatis Jr. remarked that players could “enjoy it when you see your teammate behind you just getting the results that everybody needs,”  His manager Bob Melvin also spoke up and insisted that the Padres’ players “have the ability to go on a run, and, if you make a run, you’re right there.”

Last year the San Diego Padres came in second in the National League West at 89-73 and beat the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers (with 111 wins) in the postseason. However, the Phillies sent the Padres home in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.

Manny Machado told his teammates that they need to “get your minds right for the second half. Because it ain’t gonna be easy. But we’re gonna be ready for it.”

As broadcaster  Jerry Coleman used to say, the Padres have “a golden chance” to get into the playoffs. The team has the talent–especially with the return of Tatis Jr.

Four games in Philadelphia will be the first challenge of the second half.

4 thoughts on “Ending the first half on high note for Padres

  1. BoMel needs to go. He has a canny knack for blowing close games, and he can’t manage this team to win, despite top talent. Yet, despite his incompetence and failures, he, too, is protected by management.

    1. It’s way too early to blame Melvin. Just look at his history managing Oakland’s low-budget teams. Last year the Padres reached the playoffs.

  2. If this team fired Preller and were sellers at the trade deadline, they would become formidable for the next ten years or so. They could still compete this year. Sadly, this will not happen, and the Padres are stuck in suck-mode with Mr Buy-High, Sell-Low.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Dewey,
      Buy-High, Sell-Low does seem to be a pattern for Preller. He’s had tons of money to spend (third in MLB in payroll) but can’t make it come together. Why not leave Kim at third and Cronenworth at second? He’s got a great eye for young talent, but we almost never get to see them as he’s used them as trade bait.
      If the second half goes the same way as the first, it will be interesting to see if there’s any fallout (aside from the usual firing of hitting coaches).

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