Amidst all the flurry of trades made by general manager A.J. Preller this past offseason, the Padres continue to search for better results.
Though the season is not even halfway done, San Diego is still mired back in the pack when it comes to the N.L. West division. They are in third place, 6.5 games behind the division leading Dodgers as of this writing. Though they are far from being out of the division race, with all the money and trades exhausted by this front office, you would have thought they would be well into their campaign of being in first place by a healthy margin by now.
San Diego wants to compete this season, not play the rebuilding game and hope for the best. This is a club with playoff aspirations and though those aspirations remain intact for now, if they do not get more quality games out of themselves, they will be mired in these doldrums for the rest of the summer and into the fall.
The pitching staff has been very up and down so far as they sport a very surprising 4.10 staff E.R.A. If this staff was pitching in Philadelphia or Denver, that could be understood with both stadiums in those respective cities playing like a bandbox.
That is not the case in San Diego, where it has always been a pitcher’s paradise to pitch in since it plays so big. Usually Petco Park is a place where home runs go to die and turns even the most powerful hitters into singles and doubles hitters when they are there for a series. It is alarming because of not only the money spent to upgrade the starting rotation with the likes of James Shields but how many home runs are being hit out of the ballpark.
As of today, the Padres pitchers have given up a combined 68 home runs this season, on pace easily for a record breaking year in that department, one record they would love to avoid having to themselves. There is no rhyme or reason to this sudden decline in performance from previous years other than it is players underachieving and not getting a good feel, at least not yet, of the ballpark and how it plays.
Now this could turn around with a few good weeks put together, but it has been hard to get even one good full week from their rotation one through five to jump-start a resurgence.
The lineup that featured wholesale changes has not found a way to be able to consistently churn out runs to help support their starting pitchers. It has looked at times, unfortunately, like the lineups we have seen in the past, where they struggle so much to even put up a few runs on the board without having to play small ball or imploring some type of strategy to build a run.
Matt Kemp has been an example of money spent in the offseason that has not yet paid off for the team. He has just one home run hit to his name so far this season and has struggled to recapture the power that San Diego had hoped he would find by being in a new and different environment from the one he was in with the Dodgers.
Though he does have 51 hits so far, he will need to crank up the home run power in order to jolt this lineup into one that can be a reliable one for this franchise to count on, especially if they wind up in the heat of a playoff race come August and September.
So while the season is far from even coming close to being over, the Padres must get on their horse and start to put some winning streaks together if they plan to hang with the Dodgers and Giants, who look poised to be in the driver’s seat for the division crown and playoff race all the way to the end.