The Padres and Mets were near mirror images of each other for the first half of 2023. Now they play a three-game series to take us to the All-Star break.
When the season started, the Padres and Mets both were considered near-locks to make the playoffs. This was mostly due to both of them having aggressive owners who opened their wallets in a big way this offseason.
Mets owner Steve Cohen pushed the team payroll to the highest in baseball, at over $348 million this season. The Padres rank fourth, thanks to Peter Seidler’s willingness, at just over $241 million.
You read that right; the Mets have over $100 million more of payroll than the Padres and almost $70 million more than the No. 2 team, the Yankees.
However, it has become painstakingly clear to both clubs that spending does not always mean instant success. Both teams found themselves at least eight games under .500 to end the month of June.
It got so bad that Cohen even felt the need to publicly address the Mets fans.
For the Padres, the fans are just as restless. Many feel like the time is now to strike and win a championship. However, the team has fallen flat, despite the immense talent.
A.J. Preller went on 97.3 The Fan’s morning show “Ben and Woods” last week. He publicly expressed his undying confidence in the team he assembled, despite their underwhelming first half.
Now as the calendar flipped to July, both teams appear to be awakening. They are a combined 9-1 this month, with both teams fresh off of a sweep. New York’s being the most impressive of the two, sweeping the first-place Diamondbacks in Arizona with a +13 run differential.
Now the two teams meet in the final series before the league takes a break and the elected stars head to Seattle. One team will finish their roller coaster half on a high note, while the other will see their momentum in July stymied before the break.
This is not a playoff series, like the two battled in last October at Citi Field, with the Padres coming out victorious. However, this series feels like another checkpoint. Which team is getting right quicker? Which team is actually turning it around?
The Padres open with a tough task, as Justin Verlander takes the hill for the Mets Friday night at Petco Park. Blake Snell‘s start moved up to Saturday. He owns a 2.39 ERA in 14 starts since he took the loss against the Mets on April 13. This leaves both teams up in the air as to what they will do for the series finale on Sunday.
The Mets are red-hot thanks mostly due to their star rookie catcher Francisco Alvarez, who just went 5-for-11 with three homers in that series in Arizona.
This is not necessarily a must-win series for the Padres. However, it could allow the players and staff to go into five days off feeling good about how they finished. It would rejuvenate them ahead of the second-half sprint to October. Or, it will serve as yet another setback in a season mired in nothing but two steps forward, followed promptly by two steps back.
The Mets won the first series between the two teams in early April, two games to one. One big difference is that the Padres were yet to have Fernando Tatis Jr. back.
Fair or not, a lot will be made of this series. The urgency for the Padres to do everything they can to win it must be high.
Native of Escondido, CA. Lived in San Diego area for 20 years. Padres fan since childhood (mid-90s). I have been writing since 2014. I currently live near Seattle, WA and am married to a Seattle sports girl. I wore #19 on my high school baseball team for Tony Gwynn. I am a stats and sports history nerd. I attended BYU on the Idaho campus. I also love Star Wars.