Takeaways From a Humbling May for the Padres

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Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s review a very humbling month of May for the San Diego Padres.

After starting the season with a solid 17-13 March/April, the Padres came back to earth with a respectable yet underwhelming 13-14 month of May. They played the entire month without Fernando Tatis Jr. due to a hamstring injury, and the offensive woes have been exposed at times.

Throughout the month, the Padres went on a rollercoaster of runs, which included losing six of seven games over a period against the Dodgers and Pirates, and then coming right back and winning five in a row against the Diamondbacks and Blue Jays.

Through the season’s first two months, this team has shown that they are more resilient than teams past, and have been proven to rebound after tough stretches. With that being said, there’s still a lot more to unpack from this season’s second month: some good, some bad, and a load of question marks.

This team is good, but not THAT good

The Padres stunned most of the baseball world when they started the season 11-5 and raced out to a lead in the NL West for a short period. Since that start, they’ve gone 19-23 and have produced results that suggest this isn’t the year where they make a deep postseason run.

After a hotly contested first series with the Dodgers, San Diego dropped the next two games against their rivals in a less competitive fashion. What’s showed this year is that the Padres have come a long way since last year, but they still have a long way to go if they want to unseat the perennial division champions, who have a whopping nine-game lead in the West as we enter June.

Good pitching has kept the team afloat, and they’ve continued to rely on the long ball more than any team in baseball with over 60% of their runs coming via the home run. The offense will have to start to produce if they want to have a serious shot at contending for the wild card this year.

Franmil Reyes is legit

When Reyes came up and struggled at first last season, a fair amount of people were willing to write him off as another 4-A type player who wouldn’t succeed at the highest level. Since then, he’s been one of the best hitters throughout the Padres lineup.

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His 16 home runs are good for a top five spot in the National League, and he’s getting national attention as people continue to vie for his participation in the All-Star Game Home Run Derby. Reyes has been a steady force in the lineup and someone that Andy Green‘s been able to count on day in, day out as he continues to settle into the second spot in the lineup.

Eric Hosmer is playing like “even year” Eric Hosmer again

Three weeks into the season, Eric Hosmer was hitting .184 and had become a liability in the lineup. Since his slow start, he’s come back and set the league ablaze, collecting 36 hits and a .343 batting average in May.

With Reyes playing like he is, and Manny Machado having such a big presence, Hosmer has been afforded the opportunity to settle in and just play his game. Once Fernando Tatis Jr. comes back within the next week or two, the Padres will have quite the formidable 1-2-3-4 punch in their lineup.

The bullpen needs reinforcements

Besides Kirby Yates, the bullpen has been shaky. Craig Stammen has shown that he is a regression-prone candidate, and age has to be playing at least a minor role as well. Trey Wingenter just came back and has been good, but they’ve asked a lot of him, and his workload has to be managed after returning from injury.

Besides those three, the bullpen has shown to be underwhelming and arguably erratic when it comes to keeping the team in games. Phil Maton was just optioned for Nick Margevicius (whose stay in San Diego could be short), and Robbie Erlin and Brad Wieck have yet to be the lefties that can be counted on in big situations.

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Luis Perdomo has been up and down in his return and shows promise if he can get his control figured out. The life on his fastball and bite on his slider can play in the right situations.

The starters have still been pretty solid as a whole

Before Saturday night’s massacre, Padres starters had compiled a 3.20 ERA and a WHIP hovering right around one, in their last seven starts. Even though Chris Paddack has started to show some regression, Joey Lucchesi has had back to back quality starts (albeit against subpar lineups), and Eric Lauer threw well in Yankee Stadium.

Matt Strahm has also been steady, striking out 10 Yankees in a losing effort his last time out. If Strahm can limit the long ball, he’d be throwing shutouts every time out, with five of his last six runs allowed coming via the long ball. He’s still been a solid #2 behind Paddack, but innings limits are looming for both.

The lone blemish in the rotation the past few weeks has been the revolving door that is the fifth starter’s spot. Margevicius has shown that he may not be more than a Robbie Erlin-esque type of pitcher moving forward, and Cal Quantrill has yet to command his fastball with consistency.

Expect to continue to see a flurry of moves regarding the last spot in the rotation, with Logan Allen and maybe others getting a first crack at a big league start.

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2 thoughts on “Takeaways From a Humbling May for the Padres

  1. It should be interesting to see what the club does during the trade season. They should have made other moves after signing Machado, but they coasted.
    * You are right that the team is playing over it’s head, a negative run differential tells a better story than their record. But it’s also true that the organization has not exactly seized the opportunity provided by the hot start. Roster moves will be needed.
    * Reyes is legit? Well, his power is, but he’s bad in the field, on the basepaths and his OBP is under .300. This plays as a below average RF. It would be nice to see a return of the controlled batter he was last year. He’s young, so there’s time, but his lack of proper conditioning is troubling.
    * Hosmer is indeed hitting .291, which is something the club should gladly live with. His wRC+ of 111 is below average for his position, but after last year this might be the best we can hope for.
    * Wonder if the front office wishes they’d kept Hand and Cimber right now. They sure could use them, as both Stammen and Yates are being over used.
    * Young starters will not be available come September if used at the current rate. It’s been guessed that Paddack and Strahm are on an inning limit of 150. They are ahead of that pace. Failure to manage work loads, and to identify needed roles for the staff could result in the 4 best pitchers all being unavailable or worn out come September.

  2. “Eric Hosmer is playing like ‘even year’”?

    Actually, while he is still decidedly below average for a first base man, he is also WORSE than last year (i.e. an odd year).

    He has a .03 WAR right now. Last year was 1.4. In his three best “even years” he averaged around 3.8 WAR. Therefore … this is NOT an “even year”! He still stinks, at least when compared to his direct competition, and considering he bats cleanup, and is paid $144 million dollars.

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