The San Diego Padres had an interesting month of April, in which the team was up and down with their play.
Every team goes through the ups and downs that come with a 162-game season. The Padres have embraced that trend for the season’s first month through a series of streaks mixed between some really solid baseball.
On the surface, the Padres are currently 17-13 as April comes to a close. That would mark the first time since 2010 that the team finished with a record above .500 after the season’s first month. The process has generally been a success so far and the team is playing as good as it has in maybe a decade.
While the general consensus has been that the Padres are playing well, the downside has been their perceived ability to sustain this record. They’re currently staring at a minus-9 run differential and the offense has been abysmal, with runs scored, average, an on-base percentage all sitting in the bottom three spots in the National League.
What’s been the club’s strength is the emergence of the young arms, specifically the rotation (but let’s not discount the pure dominance of Kirby Yates and his 14 saves). Chris Paddack has come up and made a name for himself as he is the owner of the lowest WHIP (0.70) and fifth-lowest ERA (1.91) in all of baseball. Nick Margevicius has come out of nowhere to post above-average numbers while harnessing below-average stuff. Matt Strahm got off to a rocky start, but has started to adjust to the rotation nicely, posting a 3.04 ERA while going at least six innings in each of his last three starts.
With any young rotation comes question marks. Sure, the Padres’ starters are off to a hot start, but what happens when the league finally starts to get a book on them? Will they be able to make the necessary adjustments and continue to get hitters out at a torrid pace? When do the innings limits start to come into play? (The Padres may have had this in mind when they called up Cal Quantrill on Tuesday, expanding to a six-man rotation for the time being.)
On the offensive side of the ball, Padres hitters have yet to get into a consistent groove. There’ve been flashes, an inning here or there in Washington, but on the whole, there have been too many strikeouts and not enough production.
Manny Machado was presumably supposed to help combat this issue, but his .229 start to the season has people thinking otherwise. The one bright spot in the order, rookie shortstop Fernando Tatis, Jr., was just recently put on the Injured List with what is being called a “hamstring strain”. Eric Hosmer has started to swing a hot bat as of late and is seemingly coming out of his month-long slump to post numbers that have arguably been better than Machado’s to start the year.
The biggest takeaway from this month is that it’s just that, one month. Predictions can be made after someone posts a bad April, mainly because it’s more amplified than if it were hidden in July or August (Machado may not have started this slowly in his career, but has had months where his production has been similarly poor).
The Padres will most likely continue to use the “wait and see” approach as they move further and further along with the season. This can apply to a number of things, one being the Ian Kinsler dilemma at second base, another being whether or not to pursue Dallas Keuchel for rotation depth, as well as when is the right time to bring up Luis Urias.
As for now, it’s encouraging to see the Padres play this high caliber of baseball for the first time in a long time. The returns have been mostly positive, so it’ll be interesting to see how the next month and the rest of the season goes.