Padres enter make-or-break month of June

May 17, 2023; San Diego, California, USA; San Diego Padres catcher Austin Nola (right) reacts after striking out to end the fourth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Padres dug themselves a hole. June must be the month to climb out of it.

It’s no secret that the Padres are perhaps baseball’s most disappointing team to date. The expectations, not just around San Diego but around the entire sport, had the Friars squarely in contention for a World Series title.

On paper, at least.

The Padres started this season with their playoff chances at 85.3%. With their uninspiring 26-30 start, their odds have now dipped to 58.3%. They have nearly entered “coin flip” territory on whether they can turn this season around in time.

There is still time for a turnaround. But it is also no longer “early” in the season. When the summer truly begins, and the calendar puts Memorial Day weekend in the rearview mirror, there is sufficient data to make fair judgments on each team.

At this moment, the Padres are a downright disappointment. They are middling at best in most categories and are dreadful in most offensive statistics. They are running out of time.

As it stands now, they would need to finish the year 62-44 to equal their 88-win total from last season. Before too much longer, this team will need something just short of a historic turnaround to make the playoffs.

June is a critical chapter in how the book of the 2023 Padres will be written. They will play 27 games this month. 13 of those games are against teams with losing records. To this point, the Padres are a meager 8-8 against teams below .500. That cannot be allowed to continue if they want to steer this vessel clear of the massive iceberg of a postseason-less season.

Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps Thursday’s 10-1 shellacking of the Marlins on the first day of the month is a sign that things are turning around. The Padres went 6-for-14 with runners in scoring position. Twice in the span of three games in Miami, the Padres collected six hits with runners in scoring position.

The Padres were a blown save from Josh Hader away from sweeping Miami.

June must be the month where taking two steps forward, only to take two immediate steps back, ends. The Padres cannot afford to be approaching the All-Star break in July, still struggling to keep their heads above water. They need to be doing graceful backstrokes like this team was designed.

While yes, there are examples of teams turning it around late to go on and win the World Series that same year, why tempt fate? The Padres will not have history on their side, even with a few exceptions. They must exit June at least at .500. That would mean leaving June with a record of 16-11.

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Getting Manny Machado back in the very near future should improve their chances of having a solid month. It appears Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove are rounding into form. Gary Sanchez has been nothing short of a revelation at catcher, at least on the hitting side. He already has more home runs in two games in a Padres uniform this season than Austin Nola, Luis Campusano, or Brett Sullivan.

Even if they are still prone to the pull-out-your-hair loss, they are becoming slightly less frequent. Since losing to the Red Sox on May 20, the Padres are 6-4, with two of those losses coming down to walk-offs.

The biggest thing that needs to change is winning close games. The Padres are currently 3-10 in one-run games, the worst in the league. Yes, worse than the Oakland Athletics. With this roster, that is inexcusable.

With a solid month of June, the Padres can undo a lot of ill will they gathered during the initial two months of the 2023 season.

The clock is now ticking. Not a single playoff team last season was worse than .500 at the All-Star break. If the Padres flounder through another month, still several games below .500 entering July, the ship may be nearly fully submerged. There is still time to bail out the water, for now.

June is a critical month in the story of the 2023 Padres.

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