The San Diego Padres welcome Milwaukee to Petco Park for a three-game set against the National League Central-leading Brewers. After a four-game series against the Colorado Rockies, the Padres are again under .500 despite scoring 47 runs. The team may need to take a step back and evaluate the remainder of the season.
Even with an onslaught of runs against the Rockies, the club was only able to squeak out a four-game split against their National League West rivals.
Despite what were perhaps two of the most exciting comebacks in team history, the team has been teetering mostly downward over the last several series. The pitching, what seemed to be a point of strength the first few months, has all but collapsed. A combination of innings limitations on some and over-use on others has left the staff struggling to get past the fifth inning in seven out of the last eight games. Other than Kirby Yates, the bullpen that was so effective earlier this season cannot seem to stop any bleeding when needed. Several poor decisions in the field and the fact that they have committed seven errors over the past eight games has not helped either.
Earlier in the year, the pitching was able to use strong defense, timely hitting and a little smoke and mirrors for some wins. But as the club starts to play these teams for the second and third time, opposing batters have started to see through that smoke and shatter those mirrors. Notwithstanding some nice moments here and there, rookies Nick Margevicius and Cal Quantrill overall seem to be in over their heads at the moment, with Margevicius in particular. They may have a spot on the big-league team down the road, but it appears they need more time in the minors. It will be interesting to see how the team bounces back against the Brewers after what has been a roller coaster ride over the last few weeks.
For the Milwaukee, 2019 has been everything they were hyped up for entering the season. Coming into the series, reigning-MVP Christian Yelich has done nothing to change anyone’s mind that the trade with Miami was an absolute heist in favor of the Brewers and is working on winning the award in back-to-back years. Lorenzo Cain has been Lorenzo Cain, and Ryan Braun has also contributed nicely, but the signing of Yasmani Grandal has been one of the most overlooked signings of this past off-season. The former-Padres catcher has solidified the backstop defense and provided excellent leadership over the pitching staff, especially the bullpen. This is what a team that is ready to compete looks like.
With the fast approach of the draft and the trade deadline, the ball club will need to decide if this is the year to really go for it or to stick with the plan on 2020 being the first real season where the Padres can be seen as a true contender. The team buzz of the Machado signing and Tatis starting at the major league level has almost worn off. That is not so say either has been a disappointment, but it does seem that the high from those two events have eroded some as we approach the dog days of summer. Does Preller hold-tight or does he go for it now and trade for a starter and a few fresh bullpen arms? The most exciting year this team has had in the last decade is sure to get even more interesting as it develops.
Game 3 (Sunday, April 7 – 11:15 AM PST): Cal Quantrill (1-2, 5.23) vs. Zach Davies (7-1, 2.60)
Players to Watch
Fernando Tatis, Jr.
After a month-long stint on the injured list, the Rookie of the Year-hopeful has exploded offensively. Since his return, he has raised his batting average from .300 to .338 and has been a terror on the base paths. Tatis had his best offensive series of his young career against the Rockies going 10-19 with seven runs scored. What does not come across the stat line is the spark he provides at the top of the order.
Renfroe was an absolute nightmare against Colorado crushing five home-runs and eight RBIs with several of them coming at crucial times. Hunter has rare power and seems to be getting comfortable in right field. At this point, there is no way Andy Green can keep him out of the lineup, especially with the pitching giving up so many runs. The team will need the bat in the lineup every day.
After five years of playing well for the Miami Marlins, Yelich developed into an MVP in 2018 and has not stopped in 2019. Yelich leads the NL in home runs and OPS and is second in the league in batting, runs, on-base percentage and WAR. He is also in the top ten in most other categories. He is gunning for back-to-back MVPs.
The 2011 5th round pick has really come into his own this year already posting career highs across the board. Woodruff is 8-1 in his 14 starts and has failed to reach the fifth inning only once so far. His strikeout per nine innings ratio is among the league leaders at 10.6. The Padres will have their work cut out for them as the team has struck out a league-leading 695 times so far this season.
A life-long San Diegan and proud father of two. I have followed the Padres since the ’84 World Series and I am excited to give a fans perspective of the club.