The Padres had a miserable July, going 5-20, the worst month since the team’s inaugural year of 1969.
Nobody was hitting. Eric Hosmer hit .186 for the month and Christian Villanueva disappeared with a 48 wRC+. The pitching was not much better as Tyson Ross finished his Padres career with an 8.87 ERA in July and Clayton Richard struggled mightily as well with a 7.50 ERA. None of the other starting pitchers really had a solid month either.
Now it’s almost halfway through August and the Padres just look different. Literally, the team looks different as they have shipped off Ross and Jordan Lyles since the deadline passed and called up Brett Kennedy and Jacob Nix to make their debuts on the mound. The Friars look to be doing a six-man rotation, and half of it consists of new pitchers.
At the plate, a few players have made big strides in the first two weeks of August. Austin Hedges has been on another level, hitting .419 with three home runs and a 227 wRC+. Hunter Renfroe is on that same plane with four homers and a 168 wRC+. Franmil Reyes looks to be finding his groove with the Friars as he, too, has mashed three homers, with a lofty 218 wRC+.
Seven Padres hitters have a wRC+ better than 100 in the month of August.
The Padres are also 6-5 this month, already surpassing their win total from July. So what has changed? Could it be a fresh intake of young pitching? Or the “first wave” (Renfroe, Hedges, Manuel Margot) finally finding their grooves at the plate? Is this team finally gelling and playing up to the standard ownership had set before the season started? (Ron Fowler had hinted he hoped for a .500 season this year). It’s probably a combination of all of that.
With a 4.03 team ERA in August, the Padres rank 13th in the league. Amazingly, the bullpen has put up even better numbers in August despite the departures of Adam Cimber and closer Brad Hand; their 2.50 ERA in August is sixth-best in all of baseball.
This team just feels different. They look like they are having more fun on the field, and they are doing it with younger guys. The next wave is starting to roll in and it is not going to stop, especially once rosters expand in September.
Will this success last? It’s tough to argue against it since the six wins in August have been against the Cubs, Brewers, and Phillies, all of whom, if the season ended today, would make the playoffs. Four of these six wins were also on the road against these talented teams. For now, let’s just enjoy this nice run.
The Padres fans and players deserve this fun stretch after one of the most brutal months in franchise history.