We are just over halfway through the 2018 season, as the Padres finished up their 83rd game on Wednesday and now sit at 36-47. They just finished up a tough stretch of 17 road games out of 19 and have lost 9 of 11.
There are some positives to take out of this progressing, young team. We have learned a lot about this team so far and there is still half a season left to get an idea of where this team is in their rebuild.
1. The bullpen is their strength
Brad Hand is once again the subject of trade rumors and he should take that as a compliment. He has already surpassed his save total from last season at 22, with a 2.75 ERA and 13 strikeouts per nine innings.
However, the bullpen has not just been the Brad Hand Show. Kirby Yates continues to surge, now with a microscopic 0.82 ERA. Craig Stammen is not too far behind at 2.65. Adam Cimber has struggled recently, but has been one of the best stories on this team.
Now Jose Castillo has thrown his name into the ring and in his first 10 appearances of his major league career, he has a 2.70 ERA and 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
The Padres rank eighth in all of baseball with a 3.54 bullpen ERA. This is why there are multiple pieces of this bullpen currently being coveted by contenders.
2. Eric Hosmer and Freddy Galvis are the real deal
Hosmer is in a bit of a slump, but has been the most reliable offensive piece in the lineup. As it stands today, he is hitting .272 with nine homers, a .347 on-base percentage and a 116 wRC+, all which pace the Padres who have at least 200 plate appearances. He has also played a solid first base.
Eric Hosmer's defense is a polarizing topic.
But this season, the numbers show he's been pretty good so far for the Padres.
Take a look (cool visual too)https://t.co/pmSZbo0zI6
— Sports Info Solutions (@SportsInfo_SIS) June 19, 2018
He seems to be embracing the role as one of the alpha’s in the locker room as well and is always a good interview.
Galvis’ production, although spotty, has been a welcome sight for sore eyes of Padres fans thirsty for anything resembling a major league shortstop. Galvis is doing things that have not been done at shortstop since Khalil Greene. At the plate, Galvis has been hot and cold, but red-hot compared to anything the Padres have had at shortstop in years. As bad as his 79 wRC+ might be, that would be the highest total for a Padres shortstop since Everth Cabrera’s all-star 2013 campaign that was cut short due to suspension.
On the field, Galvis has been as advertised defensively. He is actually ranked eighth in all of baseball among shortstops with 11 Defensive Runs Saved. He has also been very reliable, playing in all but seven innings this entire season. He has been a breath of fresh air and seems to finally be the one that can bridge the gap between now and the inevitable arrival of one Fernando Tatis Jr.
3. Starting pitching is still a problem
The fact that the top two pitchers in the starting rotation are a 34 year-old retread and a 31 year-old recovering from a serious surgery is all you need to know about where the Friars’ rotation is at. No disrespect meant to Clayton Richard or Tyson Ross. Richard has been everything the Padres could have hoped for. He has not missed a start and is leading the team in innings with 107. The left hander has pitched into the seventh inning or later nine different times this season, easily the best on the staff.
Ross has been a pleasant surprise and may turn into one of the more attractive trade chips next month. He boasts a 3.32 ERA and better-than-average 3.82 FIP in 16 starts. He is looking healthy and has shown it on the field.
Aside from those two, it’s been a crap-shoot. Joey Lucchesi has been solid when healthy with an ERA of 3.57 in 11 starts. Now that he is healthy, the rotation might level out a bit more. Speaking of leveling out, Eric Lauer seems to have found his footing in June with a 2.28 ERA this month after a miserable start.
The Padres have had 10 different starters this season. As a whole pitching staff, the Padres are 18th with a 4.13 ERA, but when looking strictly at starters, they are 22nd and the ERA balloons to 4.55. Luis Perdomo was sent down after four bad starts. The Bryan Mitchell experiment worked about as well as any unsupervised science experiment I tried in my backyard as a kid. Jordan Lyles was hot and cold before getting hurt.
The rotation has not been able to find much consistency especially with health and production. Matt Strahm has been pressed into duty as the newly-coined “opener” reliever for a few games and has fared well for the most part, but that will stretch a pitching staff thin very quickly.
4. The lineup has no thump
The Padres have more experienced hitters in the lineup this season, but that hasn’t shown much in the power department. Strictly looking at home runs, they are 27th with just 69 home runs on the season. Power is more than just home runs, though. The Friars are also 28th in slugging and 27th in wRC+. Christian Villanueva leads the charge in home runs with 16 but is largely feast or famine, with a .230 average and 28.7% strikeout rate. He is the only player with double digit homers as Hosmer is second with nine.
Wil Myers has been missing for most of the first half of the year and that takes away a lot of pop, as he had 30 last season. Hunter Renfroe has improved his peripherals at the plate but has just four homers in 150 plate appearances. By then last season, he had seven.
Hosmer never was going to be that big slugger with 30+ homer power. The Padres like a true power threat right now, at least until Myers finds his footing, which he hasn’t in seven games since his return (.174 avg, 31 wRC+). The Padres are averaging just 3.7 runs a game when the average is about 4.4 per game.
5. The lava is still flowing
Let’s end on a positive note. For the past year and maybe for the next year or so, the brightest spot in this organization has been the farm system. Nothing this season has happened to dampen that enthusiasm. The Padres just recently added another top 100 overall prospect as Chris Paddack bumped his way up. He is now eighth in the Padres system as well, and rightfully so with a 1.75 ERA and 1.29 FIP in 9 starts off of Tommy John surgery.
That is just the beginning. Fernando Tatis Jr. has done nothing to lower expectations as he, as a teenager, is in the top 10 of the Texas League in (takes deep breath) home runs, doubles, triples, runs (leader) and stolen bases.
Luis Urias has been up and down in Triple-A but that is to be expected, facing the highest level besides the majors. He tore through April with a .307 average and 132 wRC+ but has hit .254 with a 104 wRC+ since. Still, that is technically above average but Urias has higher standards than that. His call-up still is imminent.
Josh Naylor is finally validating his top 10 first baseman prospect ranking and above-average power. He has 10 home runs and a 10.1% walk rate and was a Double-A All-Star, with a 131 wRC+. He homered in that All-Star game just to add some flair.
There is a reason why the San Antonio Missions were 42-28 in the first half, in fact, there are a lot of reasons, Tatis being one. Austin Allen is lighting up the Texas League, second in home runs with 15 and fourth in wRC+ at 150. Cal Quantrill looks to have put Tommy John surgery far behind him as he leads the entire Padres organization with 87 2/3 innings and he also has a solid 3.62 FIP.
The farm system is blossoming just like we all hoped it would. The next step is to get some of the top level guys into Padres uniforms. Among the top 30 Padres prospects, look for Luis Urias, Trey Wingenter and perhaps even Logan and Austin Allen to make appearances before the 2018 season ends.