There are many story lines surrounding the San Diego Padres going into the final 72 games of their 2019 season. At 45-45, the Padres sit two games out of a Wild Card spot and will have to make roster decisions leading up to the July 31st trade deadline.
Trading away their All-Star closer, Kirby Yates, isn’t out of the question. Neither is keeping Yates and his majestic 1.15 ERA while looking to add a starter like Noah Syndergaard of the Mets.
Other story lines that will play out in this final few months include the continued development of the young players who have too often mixed flashes of brilliance with inconsistent performances. While not shocking for a young team, there is plenty of reason to think that more consistency could be looming as the summer rolls on.
The last, and arguably most, important storyline for San Diego’s second half will be whether or not their 20 year old rookie shortstop can keep on his current trajectory. In just 55 of 90 games, Fernando Tatis Jr. has not only surpassed pre-season expectations, he’s turned himself into a superstar. Defensively, offensively, on the bases. You name it, he’s done it at a high level. While most of his 20-year-old peers are in Single-A, Tatis Jr. is leading the Padres toward a potential playoff berth with unworldly play.
Will the Padres be buyers or sellers? Will they finally play with more consistency? Lastly, will Tatis keep up his current pace of shattering all expectations? Stay tuned, San Diego. This is going to be a lot of fun.
Now for the San Diego Padres (45-45) first-half grades:
Starting Pitching: C
Rookie Chris Paddack has been a bright spot in the Padres rotation, posting a 2.84 ERA and leading the team in most categories. The remaining rotation of Eric Lauer, Joey Lucchesi, Matt Strahm and Nick Margevicius have combined for a 4.95 ERA while mixing too many bad starts with too few quality starts.
For the Padres to contend this season, they will need one or more of those remaining guys to take a significant step forward, even if there is a trade bringing Syndergaard to San Diego. The Padres have been keeping Paddack on a tight leash all season due to his injury history and will probably continue to do so, which leaves a glaring need for a trade or a giant leap from someone currently on the roster.
Relief Pitching: C+
The Padres bullpen might be graded much lower if it weren’t for a historic first-half from closer Kirby Yates. Through 38 appearances, the 32-year-old All Star has been essentially unhittable, sporting a 1.15 ERA and a 60/9 K/BB split. The jaw-dropping numbers don’t stop there. Kirby has completed 30/31 saves, which leads baseball, along with an opponent’s BA of
The rest of the bullpen has been plagued with unpredictable outings and injuries, but will look to find their footing heading into Friday. Promising signs from 25-year-old Trey Wingenter and decent numbers from Craig Stammen have been overshadowed by the inexperience and poor performances. No one has really stepped up to help Kirby and the team in a big way, which will be essential if the Padres want to make a run at the Wild Card.
Look for the Padres to field offers for Yates in the next few weeks as the deadline approaches. Even with the video game numbers and little reason to trust the other bullpen guys, Yates is far too valuable not to dangle and see what’s out there. At this point, the Padres are still a year or two away from being the force they plan to be. Without a historical haul in return, it would be hard to justify trading the best closer in baseball.
There is a lot to be excited about from the Padres outfield heading in to the second half. Hunter Renfroe and Franmil Reyes have both been pleasant surprises for the team. Renfroe is having a career season with a .252 BA to go along with 27 HR (including numerous in the clutch) and 49 RBI. Reyes has a similar line with a .253 BA, 25 HR and 42 RBI. Both have issues with strikeouts that will need to be worked on, but these numbers are something the Padres can be happy about for now. CF Manny Margot was underwhelming before a hot streak in Los Angeles going in to the break, while Will Myers has been nothing short of untrustworthy. Myers continues to look lost at the plate while racking up 104 Ks and a .217 clip.
The Padres hope to keep getting production from their corner outfielders, and are crossing their fingers for Myers to find some sort of footing. The defense in the outfield has been serviceable, but a lack of athleticism and some careless errors have exposed them at times.
The Padres infield has been the biggest bright spot in 2019 with top tier defense and exciting offense. Eric Hosmer has rebounded from his lackluster 2018 Padres debut to post a .284/13/62 line. Homer already has 100 hits and will look to stay hot for the Pads.
Ian Kinsler and Greg Garcia have been solid, splitting time at second base with Garcia batting at .264 and filling in at the lead off spot when Tatis Jr. went down for 35 games with the hamstring injury. Kinsler created some friction with the fans and team early on with some immature antics, but has rebounded since to become the rock-solid defensive player he’s always been while being a serviceable hitter.
Rookie SS Fernando Tatis Jr. has been every bit as advertised and more, challenging Manny Machado at third for the most Web Gems on the left side of the Padres infield. Tatis Jr. started off the season hot before getting injured on April 28th, and has come back even hotter since his June 6th return. Since June 6th, Tatis Jr. raised his average from .300 to .327, hit 8 HR and knocked in 20 runs.
Manny Machado started off his first season as a Padre relatively slow at the plate, hitting .236 through the end of April. Machado eventually caught fire around the time Tatis Jr. got injured, and has raised his average 30 points since April 28. He has also had 16 long balls and 46 RBI. Manny picked up the load when the rookie short stop was injured, playing Gold Glove defense at both left side infield positions. Look for Tatis Jr. and Machado to keep meshing well on the left side of the infield together to form a lethal duo for the Padres.
Defensively, the Padres platoon of catchers has been respectable. Austin Hedges, known for his defensive prowess, has played a majority of the games behind the plate while successfully managing a young pitching staff. Offensively, at a position that doesn’t carry many expectations generally, Hedges continues to underperform. Strikeouts and plate discipline continue to be the 26-year-old’s biggest issue, keeping this plus defender from taking the next career leap.
Similarly, Francisco Mejia has left much to be desired from the catching position. His defense has noticeably improved from his stint at the end of the 2018 season, but his problems mostly lie on the offensive side. His issues mirror Hedges, with a lack of discipline on balls out of the zone. He has obvious potential and plenty of time to develop more discipline, so look for Mejia to take some steps forward soon.
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