Having won their last four games in a row, the Padres are a game over .500 and looking like a much better team than they did even a week ago. Manny Machado is back, with a wRC+ of 293 in his last seven games. Fernando Tatis Jr. has gotten on base at a .485 clip in the same timeframe. This team is hot, and those are only two of the players among others who are fueling the team’s recent run of success.
Fortunately for the Padres, their schedule is looking great as they enter the final two weeks of June.
Following an off-day on Thursday they begin a three game set in Pittsburgh against the Pirates. That team, by the way, is in last place in the NL Central division and has lost seven of their last ten games. That sounds pretty good, right? It only gets better as the Padres head to Baltimore for two games against an Orioles team that has the worst record in baseball, and has lost an astounding nine of their last ten games. If the Padres are going to get hot as this month comes to a close, there’s never been a better time for it to happen.
Furthermore, the Padres are recalling Chris Paddack to make his return in a Saturday start versus the Pirates. So their best pitcher is coming back, fresh off ten days rest since his last start on June 11th. After he starts on Saturday the Padres are slated to hand the ball to Joey Lucchesi on Sunday, which bodes well for the team’s success. Since the start of May, Lucchesi has an ERA of 2.98 in eight games started. The three starters slated to pitch for Pittsburgh have a combined FIP of 4.92, which is roughly equivalent to the Blue Jays’ 26th-ranked pitching staff. The Pirates’ pitching staff has recorded a WAR figure of -0.8 in the month of June, which ranks as last in all of baseball.
Yet another positive for the team is that they will have a day off in between each series they have left in June. So all of this sounds great — Now we need to see what their win probabilities are looking like. Here’s the Fangraphs win probability for each game the Padres have left in June:
|Date||Home / Away||Opponent||Padres
|Jun 21, 2019||Away||PIT||43.1%||Eric Lauer||Joe Musgrove|
|Jun 22, 2019||Away||PIT||49.7%||Chris Paddack||Chris Archer|
|Jun 23, 2019||Away||PIT||50.7%||Joey Lucchesi||Steven Brault|
|Jun 25, 2019||Away||BAL||48.9%||Cal Quantrill||Dylan Bundy|
|Jun 26, 2019||Away||BAL||54.6%||Matt Strahm||John Means|
|Jun 28, 2019||Home||STL||51.3%||Eric Lauer||Michael Wacha|
|Jun 29, 2019||Home||STL||55.2%||Chris Paddack||Dakota Hudson|
|Jun 30, 2019||Home||STL||50.2%||Joey Lucchesi||Miles Mikolas|
So this table makes it a lot harder to be optimistic about the team winning, right? Absolutely, but that doesn’t mean it can’t tell us something meaningful about the Padres’ chances of staying hot this month. For some context, the same algorithm gave the Padres a win probability of 49.3% on average in the games they’ve already played this season. In the rest of San Diego’s games scheduled in June, that same win probability jumps to 50.4% probability. Based on this data, the Padres have marginally better chances of winning in the next week and a half. Well, maybe we’re talking about the same old Padres again. Yet when you look more closely at the Padres’ recent performance, that isn’t necessarily true!
There’s a lot more to this team’s recent hot streak than we may think, and it’s become clear recently that this team isn’t just getting lucky. We’re going to look at the data that shows why the team has a strong chance of getting back into the wild card hunt as the all-star break approaches. The Padres lead MLB in position player WAR since June 13th, with 3.2 wins produced over that time frame. Now we can easily say that it’s a small sample, and that’s true — However we should also consider the fact that only the Astros and Dodgers have produced more position player WAR in a given week than the Padres did this week. In other words, the Padres just had the third-best offensive week by a team during the 2019 season.
The caveat with that offensive production was that the Padres played four of their last seven games at Coors Field. Nonetheless, San Diego produced as many runs as they did while facing the Rockies’ three best starting pitchers by WAR in German Marquez, Jon Gray, and Peter Lambert. It wasn’t as if the team’s run scoring outburst was a total fluke when we more closely analyze their run production.
Although the team’s playoff odds are only at 12.4% according to Fangraphs, the Padres have arguably never looked better than they do now. Manny Machado has produced 0.9 WAR in the last week, which is the most in all of baseball. As long as the Padres offense continues to produce, San Diego’s pitching should prove to be strong enough to win more games moving forward. Facing two struggling teams in Pittsburgh and Baltimore will only help the team’s chances of competing for a wild card. Look out for the Padres throughout the rest of this month, because they’re looking great of late.
A sophomore at Willamette University in Oregon, Conrad is majoring in Spanish but is also a writing center assistant for other students at Willamette. He has been a Padres die-hard his whole life and hopes to bring comprehensible statistical analysis to the site.