Who’s hot and who’s not for Padres through first 9 games

Mar 29, 2024; San Diego, California, USA; San Diego Padres right fielder Fernando Tatis Jr. (23) hits a home run against the San Francisco Giants during the sixth inning at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports

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Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The Padres are off to an uneven start at 4-5. Who has stood out, and who needs to pick up the pace?


Luis Campusano/Kyle Higashioka

The Padres certainly do not have a catcher problem at the moment.

One of the biggest storylines late in the 2023 season was the emergence of Campusano. He finished the season withan .875 OPS in the final 42 games. The big question was- can he build on that for a breakout 2024? So far, so good.

The young catcher is putting the ball in play over and over, to the tune of a .400 batting average and 1.000 OPS. He adds one home run and seven RBI, which is tied for the team lead. After a hot finish to 2023, he certainly is picking up right where he left off to start this season.

We would be remiss not to mention the absolute banner day Kyle Higashioka had on Wednesday against St. Louis. He became the second catcher in 45 years to throw out two attempting base-stealers and hit a home run in the same inning. He was critical in the Padres’ lone win in the series against the Cardinals.

Yu Darvish

You’re looking at the current National League leader in strikeouts. Darvish owns a solid 2.30 ERA through three starts in 15 2/3 innings. Despite allowing three runs to the Cardinals in his latest start, he went farther than any Padres starter to this point, going seven full innings. He is off to the best start of his Padres career through three games.

Fernando Tatis Jr.

There was an assumption that Tatis just needed one full season under his belt after 18 months off to fully look like himself again. That seems to be proving true, as Tatis looks more like he did in 2021 when he finished third in NL MVP voting. He leads the team with three home runs and brings along a .984 OPS and 162 wRC+.

Jurickson Profar

When the season began, the Padres were under scrutiny from fans about the choice to have Jurickson Profar manning left field every day versus another viable option in free agency. There is still plenty of time for that to be proven true, but for now, Profar is quieting the critics. He has appeared in all nine games, hitting three doubles, which is tied for the team lead. With a .809 OPS, a stellar .424 on-base percentage, and 133 wRC+, he has actually been above league average at the plate so far.

If he continues to hit like this, that’s one less worry for San Diego. He adds enormous value as a switch hitter. Odds are he will struggle at some point, but it’s nice to see him coming out of the gate hot.

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Robert Suarez

How refreshing is it to have a closer willing to stretch himself beyond three outs in the ninth? Suarez has entered a game in the eighth inning twice this season already to earn saves of more than three outs. That is something All-Star closer Josh Hader vehemently refused to do in a Padres uniform.

Now, two of Suarez’s first three saves have been more than three outs. The biggest one was Wednesday against the Cardinals. He entered the game with one out in the eighth, with the Padres clinging to a 3-2 lead and the tying run at second base.  To his credit, he worked around a walk to get Nolan Arenado to ground into a critical double play to end the eighth. He worked around two baserunners in the ninth as well to seal the win.

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports



Xander Bogaerts

While Bogaerts hasn’t totally bottomed out offensively, he is simply not hitting like someone who is being paid $280 million. His batting average of .286 is certainly respectable. However, every single one of his ten hits have been singles. He is yet to have an extra base hit in nine games. He has also struck out six times. The Padres need more from their star infielder.

Tom Cosgrove

His inclusion might come a few days too late, as he showed signs of his dominant 2023 self during the Cardinals series. His outing against the Giants on Saturday was one of the worst of his entire career. He allowed six runs while just getting one out. That one outing has inflated his ERA to 14.54. He has allowed a run in two of his six outings. It looks like his spot on the “Not” list might be short-lived, given his recent appearances. This is strictly a list of where players are at after the full nine games to start the season.

Michael King

King was the centerpiece of the trade that sent Juan Soto to New York, so the pressure is definitely on. So, coming out of the gate and leading MLB in walks isn’t exactly what anyone is looking for. The biggest question for King coming into this season was- how much of a workload could he handle? In two outings so far this season, he is yet to complete more than four innings. The biggest concern is his lack of control. He walked seven batters in four innings against the Giants on Sunday despite the Padres offense spotting him a double-digit run lead.

Manny Machado

If the Padres are going to go anywhere this season, their stars need to be stars. The fact that two of their top three paid hitters are on the “Not” side of this list is concerning. Machado is hitting .200 with a lackluster .729 OPS. His 100 wRC+ is perfectly league average. But he is not being paid $350 million over the next 11 years to be league average.

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