“High Peak Sandwiched By Low Valleys”
I’m not sure that there is any other way to describe the Padres’ 2013 season other than “high peak sandwiched by low valleys.” Unfortunately for the Friars and their fans alike, the team’s massive “valleys” have outnumbered and overshadowed their lone “peak” during the first three and a half months of the regular season.
Out of the Gate at “5-15″
San Diego’s 5-15 start to the 2013 campaign was highlighted by poor offensive production and sub-par performances from the starting pitching staff. The Friars’ lineup and their lack of production was very pronounced, because Chase Headley was unavailable due to a wrist injury he sustained during spring training.
San Diego’s hitters only managed to average 3.35 runs per game during their first 20 contests, and one could even argue that the best contact a Friar hitter made all April was when Carlos Quentin drove Zack Greinke’s to the ground and shattered the pitcher’s collarbone.
Of course, the pitching staff did not provide much reliability either. Eric Stults was the only starter who won multiple games and pitched consistently over that period, and the bullpen coughed up four games as well during the stretch to boot.
Undeterred by their early struggles, things finally began to break the Padres’ way during the next month and a half. The offense came around as All-Star Everth Cabrera turned into an effective table-setter, Jedd Gyorko was clubbing the ball to all fields, Yonder Alonso and Quentin provided some much needed power and run production, and the lineup received a much-needed boost from the finally-healthy Kyle Blanks.
The team’s starting staff also improved during that stretch. Jason Marquis pitched out of jams consistently and did not lose during the month of May, the crafty soft-tossing Stults provided a reliable left-handed arm every fifth day, Edinson Volquez kept his wildness in check so his solid ability was illustrated, and Andrew Cashner looked downright fantastic as a full time member of the rotation.
Unfortunately for the Friars, injuries struck in droves towards the tail-end of their 35-25 stretch. Alonso went on the disabled list with an injured hand, Gyorko followed him with an injured groin, and Cabrera found himself in the same company with a bad hamstring. Injuries aside, the wheels did not completely fall off for the Friars until June 29, 2013.
After a series opening win versus Miami, the Padres season officially “went to hell” on June 29, 2013. At that point, everything fell apart for San Diego in every aspect whether it was run production, starting pitching, relief pitching, or late-game managing.
San Diego’s bats have been silent during their 1-14 string of baseball, and their hitters have only averaged 2.26 runs per game since June 29th. Their inability to score has only compounded the team’s recent pitching staff issues.
Walks and the inability to locate their pitches consistently drove San Diego’s starters from games early and often. In fact, in only two games has San Diego’s pitching staff surrendered less than four runs. Then again, the starter’s issues were nowhere near as pronounced as the Friars’ bullpen problems have been, particularly during their current 1-14 stretch. Luke Gregerson for instance has blown five saves or late game leads/ties for his team in the last five weeks alone.
Of course, the Padres saved the worst of the losses for yesterday when the team was no-hit by Tim Lincecum on Saturday night. This game was the “perfect storm” which illustrated the issues that Padres have had over the last three weeks. Not only was Volquez rocked for nine runs during that start, their lineup struck out 13 times, and only ball that was put in play had a chance to fall for a hit!
While there is still one game on the docket before the break, I for one do not see the Friars heading into All-Star weekend on a positive note if their current problems continue.
Where Do They Go From Here?
Unless the Friars can halt their losing ways and fix their current problems, we are going to be in for a long summer as fans.
The good news is that the team will have Gyorko back soon (Cabrera and Alonso are already with the team), and the National League West is still competitive. Of course, none of that will matter unless members of the bullpen, cough*Street*cough* Gregerson*cough, can get their acts together. Some stable performances from the starting rotation would also be nice, and an offensive surge by Headley would be welcome too.
I’m not completely sure what to expect from the Friars in the second half of this season, but I sure would like them to surge in the second half of the season like they did in 2012.
Stats Provided By: Baseball-Reference.com
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