The San Diego Padres are still a ways away from being title contenders, and the team still has a growing phase to complete.
The growing pains have certainly been evident so far in the 2018 season. Eric Hosmer, who signed the biggest contract in franchise history in March, is adjusting to a new team and a new league. Dinelson Lamet is scheduled to have Tommy John surgery in May. Luis Perdomo is struggling to become the serviceable pitcher the team had hoped when he was selected in the Rule 5 draft. Austin Hedges, despite working on his swing in the offseason, hasn’t shown any offensive improvement.
While the noise from the fan base has been mostly groans, some glimpses into the future have been present. Joey Lucchesi was called up to replace Lamet in the rotation. He has been terrific. Franchy Cordero is hitting the ball hard. Jose Pirela has been the team’s most consistent hitter so far, and last season hasn’t looked like a fluke. Christian Villanueva leads the team in home runs, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. The Padres haven’t seen this kind of production from a third baseman in years.
This team didn’t enter the 2018 season with hopes, or even a plan, to qualify for the postseason. That playoff run is still a little while away. However, the Padres should consider shaping their roster for those playoff runs now, rather than later. A.J. Preller and Co. should start assessing who is dead weight, who can benefit from time in the minors before returning to the club, and decide which players in the minors are ready for the majors now.
Luis Perdomo was sent down to Triple-A El Paso, the club announced on April 19. His most recent start, against the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 18, was abysmal. He allowed seven earned runs over three innings. What’s worse, the Dodgers were knocking the cover off the ball while he was on the mound.
Andy Green had plenty to say about Perdomo after his first start of the season. He gave up five runs over four innings, and walked four, in a 7-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. He responded to what Green had to say in his next start, holding the World Champion Houston Astros to just one run in five innings.
Any confidence Perdomo may have had is likely gone after his performance against the Dodgers. Before being selected in the Rule V draft, Perdomo had never pitched above Single-A. It would benefit him to spend some time at Double-A, or even Triple-A, where he can work to improve his craft. Perdomo has the talent to perform in the majors, but that talent needs to be developed.
With Perdomo’s demotion, the Padres announced that Kirby Yates was activated from the disabled list, and is now back on the 25-man roster. Yates is the only addition announced. No players have been called up from the minors.
Kevin Acee, who covers the Padres for the San Diego Union-Tribune, tweeted earlier on April 19 that there is “widespread belief in the organization” that it’s time to see what Eric Lauer can do in the majors. Lauer is the No. 13 prospect in the Padres’ farm system. He’s made three starts so far in 2018 for Triple-A El Paso, allowing three earned runs over 18 innings. If the organization really believes that it’s time to see what Lauer can do in the majors, they should bring him up now and not wait until later.
#Padres considered starting Perdomo in minors out of spring training, but he showed enough to get another shot. He has been mostly frustrating since.
And there is a widespread belief in organization that it’s time to see what Eric Lauer can do in majors. https://t.co/JciYhielKX
— Kevin Acee (@sdutKevinAcee) April 19, 2018
As for the offense, the Padres could likely begin to address the lack of production from some of their position players. Hedges is tied for the team lead in strikeouts. Carlos Asuaje is hitting just .219. With Jose Pirela performing well at the plate, and Wil Myers returning soon from the DL, the team should consider making Pirela the everyday starter at second base.
Hunter Renfroe is another player who could be on a short leash. With Myers out of the lineup, Renfroe has had a real opportunity to show why he belongs on this team. He hasn’t done that. With Myers returning to a crowded outfield, at-bats will become more competitive.
As more players become ready to receive the call to the majors, the Padres will have to make more roster decisions. It’s better to start doing it now, and have the roster set when it’s time to make that postseason run.