San Diego Padres 1B/DH Josh Bell will be the X-factor for the Friars this postseason.
As surprising as that sounds, Bell will be put in situations where his ability to hit will be needed. The Padres are in New York, preparing to face the New York Mets in a best-of-three Wild Card series. The Friars will face two of the top hurlers ever to walk the planet. Max Scherzer gets the nod for Game 1, and likely Jacob deGrom in Game 2. The offense will need to be at their best, and Bell brings experience outside the obvious stars like Manny Machado and Juan Soto. We all expect Soto and Machado to show up. If Bell contributes, then that will be a massive boost, as he has struggled since arriving in San Diego.
It’s been a tale of who cities for the 2019 All-Star. The former National started the year in Washington, where he slashed a line of .301/.384/.493 with an OPS of .877. He smashed 14 home runs with 57 RBIs and hit the ball a lot better than Soto did during that span.
His time in a Padres uniform has not been the same. He finished the regular season in SD with a line of .192/.316/.271 and a .587 OPS. He hit only three homers and finished with just 14 RBIs in 177 at-bats. The Padres hoped to get better production from Bell, but there is still light at the end of the tunnel. He will likely be batting in the middle of this lineup this weekend in what will be his first playoff appearance.
Bell has seen success against Scherzer in his career. In 15 plate appearances, Bell has five hits, four extra-base hits (including a home run), and two walks.
The main reason I wanted Bell to get going is simply because he hits left handed. He has a career 120 wRC+ vs righties. The Mets top 3 starters and bullpen arms are all right handed. Wil is hot but Bell has a 1.479 OPS vs Scherzer in 15 PAs. Tomorrow’s lineup will be interesting. pic.twitter.com/X3dlEL2oM1
— Giannis Auntiegotapoodle (@TooMuchMortons_) October 6, 2022
Most of that action was when Bell was with the Pittsburgh Pirates, as they were teammates on the Nationals for a short time last season.
Bell will likely be the DH as manager Bob Melvin has preferred Brandon Drury to play first since his arrival as well. Bell can focus on his approach at the plate where he knows he must improve. This is a very important time for not only the Padres as a team but for himself also. The Texas native is a free agent at the end of this season, and there is a good chance he is not returning to the Padres in 2023.
The first baseman will be a hot commodity on the market as he brings switch-hitting value and experience at 30 years old. He hasn’t played well since his time in San Diego, but he is a great hitter who can contribute to a majority of teams in the league.
Luckily for the Padres, they are not worried about the future right now. They need Bell to step up and prove that it was a smart decision to bring him to San Diego. General manager A.J. Preller brought him here for a reason. He wasn’t just an addition to Juan Soto. He is one of the top first basemen in the league. The Padres have been on pace for the playoffs all year, and Preller knew what he was doing. The switch hitter’s presence in this lineup makes them scary if he is hitting well.
Keep an eye on Bell in this series against the Mets, as he is used to playing there after his time in the NL East Division. He will be the Padres’ X-factor not only in this series but for the entire playoffs if they advance to the next round.