In the two-game series against the Mariners in Seattle, the San Diego Padres demonstrated their utter lack of consistency.
36-year-old Yu Darvish pitched a gem of a game, giving up two hits in eight innings. Padres batters managed eight hits and two runs in a tight 2-0 victory. Darvish gave the bullpen a welcome rest, and Josh Hader, who has had his struggles since joining the Padres, closed out the game with three strikeouts.
The very next day, starter Mike Clevinger gave up not one but two home runs in the first inning in a 6-1 loss. Manager Bob Melvin had seen enough after five innings in which Clevinger had given up a total of seven hits and six runs. In 98.2 innings, Clevinger has a 5-7 record.
At this point in the season, we have to wonder if the Padres need a shrink or an intervention or a psychic. A team with this payroll and this talent should be operating on all cylinders much more frequently.
The Padres rank fifth in spending behind the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, New York Yankees, and the Philadelphia Phillies. With a total payroll of $218 million, this team should show more consistency. Yes, they do consistently lose to the L.A., but otherwise, the ups and downs have been extreme.
Recently the Dodgers became the first team to clinch a spot in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Padres are hanging on by their toenails, chased by a Milwaukee Brewer team with a $135 million output (19th in all of baseball in expenditures). After the 4-0 loss to the Diamondbacks on Thursday, the Padres clung to a 1 ½ game lead in the race against the Brewers for the last National League Wild Card spot.
Pitching first half
Pre-Post All-Star Game After All-Star Game
Yu Darvish 3.41 2.77
Blake Snell 5.22 2.88
Joe Musgrove 2.42 4.91
Sean Manaea 4.11 8.15
Mike Clevinger 3.50 5.33
Third baseman Manny Machado has been the only consistent bright spot on offense, batting 2022 .299/369/.535/.904. In general, the rest of the group has waxed and waned from one game to another.
Pre-All-Star OPS/Post-All-Star OPS
Manny Machado .890 .927
Juan Soto .902 .736
Josh Bell .894 .645
Jose Azocar .598 .981
Luis Campusano .160 .742
Wil Myers .582 .805
Jake Cronenworth .729 .740
Jorge Alfaro .743 .475
Trent Grisham .622 .721
Ha-Seong Kim .692 .682
Austin Nola .620 .658
Jurickson Profar .737 .708
Cronenworth, Nola, and Grisham barely resemble the batters from the 2021 season:
2021 .266/340/460/800 OPS
2022 .241/336/.394/730 OPS
2021 .272/340/376/716 OPS
2022 .245/321/310/631 OPS
2022 .190/.296/356/652 OPS
Heralded newcomers Soto, Bell, and closer Josh Hader show few signs of recapturing their lost mojo. A dip in performance might be expected when a player finds himself uprooted in midseason. However, the three continue to have difficulty returning to form. In six years in Milwaukee, Hader’s ERA averaged 2.48; in San Diego, it has skyrocketed to 12.10. In fact, he didn’t save his first game until the end of August in a win against the San Francisco Giants.
The Padres even gave Sean Manaea a rest after he allowed nine hits and eight earned runs in 4.1 innings against the Dodgers on September 3rd. In San Diego, he has not resembled the pitcher he had been over his six-year career in Oakland (50-41 record 3.86 ERA+ 107). After skipping one start, he returned and pitched five innings against the Diamondbacks, giving up three hits and two runs over five innings in a 4-0 loss. The offense managed just three hits and left ten men on base against Drey Jameson— in his first start in the big leagues.
From one game to the next, Bob Melvin has no idea what to expect from this team, and he recently admitted on 97.3 The Fan that it’s been “a frustrating period because we think there’s a lot more in there.”
Part of the frustration lies at the feet of Fernando Tatis Jr. In his three years with the Padres. He’s proven to be an offensive catalyst. Overall he’s batted .292/.364/.611/.975 with an OPS+ of 160. In late August, just as the players geared up to welcome him back after surgery for a broken wrist, he tested positive for steroid use and faces an 80-game ban.
However, that’s old news at this point, and this San Diego Padre team has too much talent to waste another year. With the exception of six seasons when the Padres reached the postseason (1984, 1996, 1998, 2005, 2006, 2020), the team has let the fans down. But expectations have risen thanks in part to the increase in payroll. If the Padres continue on this pace (78-66), the team will produce a winning record, the first in a full season since A. J. Preller took over as general manager (indeed, for the first time since 2010).
After hiring two inexperienced managers (Andy Green and Jayce Tingler), Preller turned to Melvin. Since his playing career ended, Melvin has managed the Seattle Mariners (two years), Arizona Diamondbacks (five years), and Oakland Athletics (11 years). In fact, he’s won Manager of the Year three times (2007, 2012, 2018).
This San Diego Padres team has the talent and the leadership to reach the playoffs. But every single player has to dig deep and give the best effort possible down the stretch.