Don’t you love late-season drama?
It’s that time of year when fan bases start to give up if they don’t see their team close enough in the Wild Card race. That is exactly what most of the San Diego Padres fan base has done … given up.
The Friars are three games under .500 with a (52-54) record, placing them 4th in the very competitive NL West Division. They also sit five games back of the final Wild Card spot currently held by the Cincinnati Reds.
It’s understanding how frustrating the season has been for the entire franchise, which includes the players, front office, and fan base. With the level of talent on the roster, the Padres should have a winning record. However, that is just not the case. The team has struggled to win games, especially in close battles. In one-run games and games that went into extra innings, the Friars are just (6-21) and have yet to win a single game in extras this campaign.
Padres when scoring:
— Al Scott (@AlScott1998) July 30, 2023
What is interesting, however, is this same club is currently 5th … yes, 5th in the MLB in run differential. The Padres are (+63) on the season, which trails only the Atlanta Braves (+151), Texas Rangers (+145), Tampa Bay Rays (+135), and finally, the Los Angeles Dodgers (+88).
The Padres have fewer wins than the next 16 teams behind them in run differential. The reason, of course, is how dominant the pitching staff has been — in particular, the starting rotation. San Diego has allowed the fewest runs in all of baseball at just 418 on the season. The Rays are next at 426, which shows that the Padres’ pitching staff is very elite.
Before the season started, many bragged about the starting lineup’s potential, and the thought of the rotation would be iffy. Yet, 106 games into the year, it’s the complete opposite. The Padres offense is struggling to score runs, but the good news is that the team is starting to figure it out. They have won six of their last ten games and are slowly creeping up on the Wild Card race. If the Padres can just score four runs, then they have a chance to win any game they play in.
San Diego will not be sellers at the trade deadline. They will likely not be buyers either unless it’s for a potential reliever rental. A.J. Preller has built a talented roster that has yet to come alive. There is still plenty of time for it to pan out. The Padres do not need to win the 2023 World Series for this to be considered the beginning of a successful ball club.
The Padres do, however, need to reach the playoffs. There are just under 60 games remaining on the campaign, and the goal is still within reach. The club has a lot of expectations as they reached the NLCS last year and fell to the Philadelphia Phillies in five games.
Now is the time to start believing. The 2022 Friars shocked the entire baseball community with their hot run at the end of last season. They knocked off the 111-win Dodgers in four games in the NL Division Series last season after taking down the New York Mets in three games in the NL Wild Card Series. This club has the experience.
Xander Bogaerts has two World Series rings with the Boston Red Sox. That is very valuable in October. Even though he has struggled for a majority of this year, there is no doubt in my mind that the slugger will turn it around. Petco Park is not an easy park to hit in, and so it is taking him a little extra time to figure it out.
A majority of last year’s team is again on the roster this year. If they can capitalize on a difficult schedule ahead of them, then this team can make a strong playoff push.
You just have to have faith … right, Friar Faithful?
Chris is a graduate of the University of San Diego. He is the former Sports Editor for the USDVista newspaper. Chris is also an athlete and is huge fan of San Diego sports. Chris has covered the San Diego Loyal, and contributes regularly about the Padres.