What can be said about the way the San Diego Padres are playing right now? The team has brought a ton of enthusiasm to a once sleepy baseball city. The Padres win or lose have already won this season. By gaining an All-Star game next season and establishing a core group of players like Matt Kemp, James Shields, Derek Norris and Wil Myers, the lifelong fans realize this team will be competitive for years. That in itself is the most exciting of all.
The series against the Chicago Cubs epitomized the whole San Diego Padres season. The first game was exactly the formula that A.J. Preller drew up for a Padres win. Shields goes seven strong, Joaquin Benoit throws a scoreless eighth and Craig Kimbrel comes in to close out the game. That is after the teams offense comes to the rescue by scoring late runs for the team. Perfect scenario, except for the home run Kimbrel gave up to Chris Coghlan in the ninth. The Padres have just failed to secure leads and this winning formula has been consistently missing.
The second game represents all the missed victories the team failed to grasp. The game was easily winnable, with a timely bunt and or a clutch hit the game could have easily been a Padres victory. Those are the type of games good teams win. Especially when you are playing at home. Base running errors, mental errors and horrible pitch location has killed this team all season long. They take one step forward, like the victory in game one, then proceed to take two steps back with a mental error plagued second game of the series.
The series finale was the epitome of the Padres stale offense that has frequently shown itself this season. To get shut out at home with a series win on the line is definitely a set back for the team. The second game and its horrid performance lingers resulting in a shut out loss, in where the team shows no fire. The ending result of the series is one win and two loses. That type of trend will get the Padres exactly where they are, spinning their wheels at the .500 mark.
The team is in a tail spin, there is no way around that. Still the feeling that this team can and will turn it around is still filling my thoughts. They can not possibly play this bad all season long, can they? The untimely injuries of Wil Myers and Yonder Alonso have quieted the optimism. Yet, I say the season is still a long road. There is no doubt that the team needs to turn it around soon, or it will be too late. However another week or two of .500 play will not kill the whole season. The talent level on the Padres is high enough that if they stay close, anything can happen. You really have to believe that.
So remain calm San Diego Padres fans, this season is far from over because of a couple of weeks of bad play. The pitching has been horrendous allowing a league leading 59 home runs. Petco Park has suddenly turned into Coors Field as opposing players are just mashing home runs there. The team ERA currently sits 26th in the major leagues with a 4.32 ERA on the season. Oddly the staff ranks number one in quality starts and is tied for second with the Los Angeles Dodgers in strikeouts with 362. The teams fielding percentage is up to 18th over all as the team has settled down defensively. A positive sign indeed. They will most likely finish in the middle of fielding percentage as defense is not the teams best asset, so don’t expect gold glove play from the team.
The Padres hitters are currently 17th in batting average with a .246 average. They rank 15th in home runs with 37 in total from the team. Surprisingly the team ranks 6th overall in stolen base with 31. The team wasn’t considered fleet-footed, but have been very aggressive on the base paths. The team has only been thrown out seven times in their steal attempts, so their percentage is fantastic. Another positive sign to what this team can achieve.
Overall when analyzing this team you realize there is something missing. A few key pieces here and there, and the team could blossom into a powerhouse. Yes, I know Padres fans are beat-up right now, but this team has yet to play well and are still very much in the playoff race. I cannot say that enough, as the team has yet to find any sense of consistency. When that consistency comes, I suspect we will witness something very special from this team. It starts this weekend in Los Angeles (hopefully). The Dodgers are not playing exceptional baseball right now, and a successful series against them would exercise a lot of demons for this Padres team.