The Padres need production from the middle of the lineup in the worst way.
If the Padres truly wish to hoist a championship trophy, they will need more offensive production from the middle of the lineup. Josh Bell, Brandon Drury, Jake Cronenworth, and Wil Myers will need to step up and provide a big hit or two against the Phillies this series if San Diego wishes to advance to their first World Series since the 1998 season.
Time and time again, the four men mentioned above have come to the plate in a crucial situation. Cronenworth did produce one of the biggest hits in the history of the organization with his liner up the middle against the Dodgers that plated two runs and nailed the coffin shut on LA in the NLDS. The Padres need more big hits like that from this group. They are indeed capable.
Austin Nola and Trent Grisham delivered in the last two series against the Mets and Dodgers. Heading into the playoffs, the bottom of the lineup looked to be an issue for the Padres, but that particular place in the order has flipped the script. They are not an issue. Both men are producing.
Heading into Wednesday’s Game 2 of the NLCS, Trent Grisham is leading the team with a 1.328 OPS this postseason. The center fielder is 8-for-21 with three homers and 17 total bases. Manny Machado is second on the team with a .980 OPS (8-for-27). Austin Nola is third on the team in postseason production with a .916 OPS in seven games. Nola and Grisham are no longer easy out for the opposition.
Brandon Drury is in an awful funk right now, as he has gone 1-for-15 (.133 OPS) with six strikeouts in the postseason. Wil Myers looks to be Bob Melvin‘s choice at first base, as the veteran has played the majority of the time at first base in place of Bell or Drury. Myers is only 2-for-23, though, and produced a .342 OPS this postseason. Myers is the best defender, and the veteran manager is allowing the right-handed hitter to work through his offensive woes.
Josh Bell had a massive homer in Game 1 of the Wild Card series in New York off Max Scherzer, but he has done little else and struck out to end Game 1 on Tuesday, representing the winning run with two outs in the ninth. Bell is 3-for-19 with a .516 OPS this postseason. His at-bats have not looked well recently, as the switch-hitter is simply being overpowered by pitchers. Cronenworth has the best numbers (7-for-29 with a .586 OPS), but you still expect more from the two-time NL All-Star.
As a group, this unit (Myers, Bell, Drury, Cronenworth) is hitting .151 (13-for-86) with 23 strikeouts and two walks this postseason. The Padres need these men to get hot and get on base. If they do, this series with the Phillies could get very interesting. The Padres’ offensive woes from the regular season cannot continue this fall if they genuinely want to contend.
Tuesday’s starter, Zack Wheeler, was filthy. Sometimes you run into a pitcher like that in a playoff series. The Padres must re-group and take care of business on Wednesday afternoon against Aaron Nola. Not an easy ask, but if they want to even up this series, they will need some production from the middle of the lineup. It has to happen.