The San Diego Padres are only 44 games into the season, and hold a 20-24 record. With 118 games left to play, they are only seven games out of first place in the National League West and five games behind the Chicago Cubs for the second NL Wild Card.
We’re not even a third of the way into the season, so going into “Chicken Little” mode and saying that the season is a bust is premature. In fact, premature is a bit of an overstatement in this situation.
When the Padres showed flashes of their potential in April, the roster was healthy. Wil Myers was starting in center field while becoming the lead-off hitter that everyone hoped he would be. Yonder Alonso was showing signs of the type of player he was projected to be when San Diego acquired him in the Mat Latos trade.
Myers and Alonso are both on the DL, and their absence is certainly showing. Yangervis Solarte has been filling in as the lead-off hitter, even though he isn’t exactly the player to stick in that position. He was performing much better in the sixth spot, where he was batting when the season began. Matt Kemp and Will Middlebrooks can’t break out of their respective slumps, and Clint Barmes and Alexi Amarista are platooning at short stop despite neither of them being an everyday player at that position.
The team that was built to outscore and out-pitch their way into the postseason is averaging 4.2 runs per game while posting a 4.26 team ERA. James Shields is doing what he was signed to do, but the rest of the rotation has been up and down. Ian Kennedy has a 6.75 ERA. Tyson Ross hasn’t been the dominant No. 2 pitcher he was expected to be, but has pitched well enough to pitch games. However, he hasn’t gotten the run support he needed to win during some of his starts. The same goes for Andrew Cashner. His ERA is under three, but his record is 1-7.
The offense has been consistently inconsistent. Justin Upton leads in almost every category. The starting left fielder has 11 home runs with 29 RBIs. The only category he doesn’t lead is batting average. Myers leads the team with a .289 BA.
Kemp is hitting just .184 over the last 10 games, going 7-for-38 in that span. I’m not sure what it will take for him to get back to the form he showed in April, but I have hope that he will get there.
The return of Myers and Alonso might be what this lineup needs, but that is yet to be seen. However, even without them playing, this team still has plenty of firepower. It just hasn’t been hitting.
We’re still over a month from the All Star break. I’m already seeing cries on social media to begin the fire sale and start again from scratch, but those are from the fair-weather fans who didn’t show up until A.J. Preller became the Godfather and started making offers that other general managers just couldn’t refuse.
The real fans are getting a little impatient, but even they understand that a full baseball season is a marathon and not a sprint. However, they are still impatient. In the team’s 45+ years of existence, they have two World Series appearances, but no championships. They’ve only been to the postseason six times, if you count the 2007 play-in game against the Colorado Rockies as an appearance.
The Padres have plenty of time to turn things around, and they have the talent on their roster to make it happen. Don’t panic just yet, Padre fans. We haven’t yet made it through May. Sit back, relax and just enjoy the ride. It’s bumpy now, but it should smooth out.