The San Diego Padres offense was upgraded this past off-season with the likes of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, Derek Norris and Will Middlebrooks. The past few seasons watching the Padres attempt to score runs was down right humiliating. The team could not string together hits to save their lives. The pitching staff seemed in tune with the offense and was stingy in allowing runs. Oh how times have changed.
That combination of stingy pitching and inept offense proved to result in a slightly below average team. Something that was rather boring to watch as a fan. Rooting for your team when they can’t score runs is frustrating. When a team like that falls behind by three or four runs, the game is essentially over. This seasons Padres team is unlike the teams of seasons past. This team can and has scored in bunches. A most exciting thing to see for Padres fans.
The bunches of runs have produced a Padres team that can put up 10 runs one night and get shut out the next. That type of emotional roller coaster can result in a team that is flat and tired. That is what we see before us at the moment. You still have to love the heart you see from the team. After a demoralizing inning on defense, this team has time and time again responded by putting up runs them self. To me that is a great sign of their character. That bodes very well for the future of the San Diego Padres franchise.
The team is in the need of a slight tune-up or tweak though. There is just something or more specifically someone missing from the team. You really would have to think the team would want a left-handed slugger to hit in between Kemp and Upton. It only makes sense, as Will Venable, Yangervis Solarte and even a healthy Yonder Alonso are not that player the Padres need in between those two. Something needs to change.
The shortstop position is what it is. Alexi Amarista surely hasn’t hurt the Padres. Contrary to what most Padres fans initially complain about. The position is one of weakness through out baseball and quite simply there are no shortstops to be had. Well at least as of yet. I am sure A.J. Preller is on the lookout, but the team may have more pressing issues. Amarista isn’t great by any means but he is all the Padres have at the moment.
The before mentioned strength of the team coming into this season was the pitching staff. With all key pitchers from last season returning, the staff was already set to be quality. Add to that the addition of James Shields, Brandon Maurer and Shawn Kelley and the staff was to become elite. So far it has been less than elite. The expensive Shawn Kelley ($2.835 million this season) is not making any fans with his new team. His ERA has skyrocketed to 10.85 after giving up four hits and two earned runs in an inning and a third against the Mariners on Tuesday. Kelley is playing himself into being released by the team. He has a track record of success, but cannot continue to get shelled and stay on the roster. The team will make a move if needed.
With Nick Vincent in AAA El Paso, Kelley must surely step up his game. Frank Garces was also roughed up on Tuesday giving up four runs and three hits in two innings of relief. His ERA raises to 5.19 on the season. He is the lone left-handed option in the pitching staff, so I would prefer he stay around. We will see how the Padres address the issue of the middle relievers.
Craig Kimbrel has not pitched like he is capable of. His ERA of 5.68 so far this season is no way close to what he is capable of. His career ERA coming into the season was 1.48 and he will surely throw better. Joaquin Benoit and Kevin Quackenbush have been relatively solid. Dale Thayer has been solid and has an ERA of 1.88 in 14 innings so far this season.
The San Diego Padres pitching staff is currently 21st in the league in ERA out of 30 teams. A 4.28 ERA is a far cry from the 3.27 ERA the team had last year when they finished fourth in ERA for the entire league. After giving up six home runs to the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday the team is now leading the league in home runs allowed with 50 on the season. The team allowed 117 home runs all of last season. That is a huge difference in one season.
So why is the pitching staff pitching so bad? Some have speculated that the team is missing the pitch framing abilities of Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera. Both catchers advanced defensive numbers are impressive, but ultimately the Padres pitching staff is just not pitching well. You cannot blame Derek Norris for pitch calling or receiving, if a ball is hit out of the ball park. A home run is a result of missed location from a pitcher more than anything. For that the catcher can’t take the blame, at least not 50 times.
The problem with the pitching staff is troubling. Darren Balsley is considered one of the best in the business and if he cannot ease the problem, then I don’t know who can. It is still early in the season though. The staff can easily turn things around. That would really help guide this team in the right direction, because they are presently lost, trying to find an identity.