The San Diego Padres are rapidly sinking after a promising start to the season.
As the final month of the regular season begins around Major League Baseball, very few things are certain. All but one division leader has a lead less than 10 games, and both Wild Card races contain five teams less than six games out.
The Padres currently are 1.5 games back for the second National League Wild Card spot, yet it feels like 11.5.
“Dead in the water” may seem harsh, but the definition of that saying is ” a ship is one that is motionless and without power. The figurative expression ‘dead in the water’ means ‘unable to function; without hope of future success; doomed.’
“Without power” and “unable to function” certainly seem to describe the Padres since the trade deadline. Since July 30, the Friars are 9-15. Since August 11, they own a 3-13 record. To make matters worse, the Padres are relatively healthy. Yu Darvish made his return, albeit a lackluster one (6 IP, 4 ER). Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado, the two brightest stars in San Diego’s lineup, are both playing every day. Yet in the last 14 days, they are batting a combined .175 with a .566 OPS and 51 wRC+.
It’s not the two stars that deserve all of the blame. Adam Frazier is completely punch-less since arriving via trade from the Pirates. Over 27 games in San Diego, he owns a measly .227 average, almost 100 points lower than his All-Star level line in Pittsburgh, along with a 53 OPS+, less than half of what it was with the Pirates.
After a hot start to summer, Tommy Pham, too, has faded, with a .150 average and .544 OPS.
As a team, over the last 14 days, they are dead last in batting average, OPS, and wRC+. The starting rotation ranks 29th in innings pitched, and the whole staff is 25th in ERA over that same timeframe. It seems like every other day is a bullpen day, planned or not.
On the mound, even as the starting rotation gets healthier, the staff is stretched thin, and the wheels seem to be wobbling at the worst time. The Padres acquired veteran Jake Arrieta as an innings-eater and a boost, and he provided neither, getting shelled for five earned runs in less than four innings before promptly getting put on the injured list. Darvish owns a 6.65 ERA in his last five starts. Ryan Weathers cannot stop allowing home runs, with an astronomical 4.32 home runs allowed per nine innings and a chase rate in the one percentile.
The Padres continue to fail at taking care of the lesser opponents in the NL West. Against the Diamondbacks and Rockies this season, the Padres are 17-18, including getting swept in Denver earlier this month. Any hope of catching the Dodgers for the No. 1 Wild Card spot might have been dashed by getting swept in an emotional, exhausting series in San Diego last week.
Things do not get any easier. In fact, it gets harder. After this upcoming series with the Diamondbacks, 26 of the Padres’ remaining 28 games are against teams with a record better than .500, including 16 against the Dodgers and Giants, the two heavyweights in the division.
Where do the Padres go from here? It’s hard to imagine a team with this amount of talent continuing a .188 winning percentage like they have the last 16 games. The Padres will likely need to play like they did in May when they went 19-9 to make the playoffs. Their playoff odds tanked from 96.7 percent on July 1 down to 23.6 percent on Monday. They have no one to blame but themselves.
Is all hope lost? No. All it takes is a strong week and the Reds to flounder, and the Padres are right back in the driver’s seat for the second Wild Card spot. This is the most talented team the Padres have ever had. Nothing should be impossible, even if, at times like these, nothing but disappointment appears attainable. They still control their own destiny in a way, but not for much longer.
Time is rapidly running out, and they are taking on water.