The San Diego Padres might be a year or so away from truly being a playoff contender, but in the meantime they’re a pretty fun team.
Unless they’re facing the team you cheer for, in which case they can be the source of a frustrating week.
These aren’t (quite) your father’s Padres, as their lineup now has a few sources of pop. Oddly enough, it isn’t the high-priced free agents they lured with the great beaches and weather (and multi-hundred-million dollar contracts), but the younger stars who may end up anchoring a future playoff run.
While Eric Hosmer (.282/.336/.443, .779 OPS, 108 OPS+) and Manny Machado (.261/.343/.448, .792 OPS, 112 OPS+) have both been above-average bats so far this year, they’ve also combined for 18 home runs and $33 million in salary.
Instead, the Friars have been powered by guys like Hunter Renfroe -- who’s tied for 2nd in the majors in home runs with despite not having enough plate appearances to qualify for other league leaderboards with only 223 -- and a very large 23-year-old in Franmil Reyes -- who’s hit 19 home runs in 238 plate appearances.
Overall, the Padres still rank around the middle of the pack offensively, but are still capable of big offensive outbursts -- as seen over the weekend in Colorado, where it wasn’t just the Coors Field effect that led to the Padres and Rockies setting a new record for runs scored in a four-game series with a total of 92.
Where they’ve been hurt is their pitching -- in case that series in Colorado didn’t clue you in -- which has plenty of potential but is basically learning how to pitch in the majors on the fly. Think of it as a staff full of Freddy Peraltas and Corbin Burneses, with Chris Paddack starring as their Brandon Woodruff. If they do get a lead into the 9th inning, Kirby Yates has been one of the best relievers in all of baseball, striking out a Hader-ian 51 in 30 innings and racking up 24 saves.
Monday, June 17th - 9:10 p.m. CDT
Jhoulys Chacin vs. Joey Lucchesi
If you remember back to the first series of last year, Lucchesi made his MLB debut against the Brewers. He gave up 3 runs on 7 hits in 4.2 innings in that game, and went on to have a decent rookie season, and has continued to be a perfectly decent starter, putting up a 4.11 ERA/3.79 FIP in 13 starts this year, striking out 9.1 per 9 innings. The lefty does that without overpowering stuff, averaging just about 91 mph on his fastball, but has a very good changeup.
Tuesday, June 18th - 9:10 p.m. CDT
Brandon Woodruff vs. Logan Allen
Allen is being called up to make his Major League debut in this start. Yet another Padres prospect that ranked in baseball’s Top 100 at the start of the year, he’s struggled with control at times at Triple-A El Paso, but has struck out 63 batters in 57.2 innings so far this year. His call-up means the Brewers will face three consecutive lefty starters in this series.
Wednesday, June 19th - 2:40 p.m. CDT
Zach Davies vs. Matt Strahm
Strahm largely pitched out of the Padres’ bullpen last year, but did make 5 starts as an Opener and exceled so much in that role he was given a shot to stick in the rotation as a traditional starter this year. He’s had some mixed results, striking out 60 in 63.2 innings but allowing 12 home runs already with a Corbin Burnes-like HR/FB of 15% -- tough to do when your home stadium is Petco Park. To be fair, things were looking a lot better for him before his last couple starts, which included giving up 7 runs in 4.1 innings against the Marlins and 6 runs in 3.1 innings in that ridiculous series in Colorado.
Player to Watch
Unlike the Blue Jays and Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., the Padres didn’t play games with their second generation prodigy, playing Fernando Tatis, Jr. from Opening Day. While he missed a good chunk of the year so far due to a nasty-looking hamstring injury, the 20-year-old is now back in the lineup and is hitting .338/.392/.626 with a 1.018 OPS, 169 OPS+, 8 home runs and 8 stolen bases in 10 tries in 37 games.
Vladito got all of the prospect hype heading into the season, but Tatis is much more of a complete player in all phases of the game -- and has gotten off to the better start to his career. After missing all of May, Tatis has gone 17-for-39 with 3 doubles, 3 triple and 2 home runs in the 10 games since his return.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference