The San Diego Padres are nearing the quarter mark of the 2016 season and still searching for exactly what kind of team they want to be. They might be a lot closer than you think.
Manager Andy Green has set the positive tone for this team from the beginning, and that optimism has been challenged as his team stumbled out of the game getting outscored by the Dodgers 25-0. They have blanked 9 times and in 7 of those 9 shut outs they lost by no more than 3 runs. In other words it wouldn’t have taken much to change their record from 16-21 to at least a .500 record if they could swing half those games the other way.
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The Padres have been hit hard by injuries early this season. Their Opening Day starting pitcher, third baseman, second baseman and just recently catcher are all on the Disabled List. For a team that didn’t build a lot of margin into their plans for the season, they have weathered that storm fairly well.
Now they have brought up their third pitcher from AAA to fill a spot in the rotation and he was very good in his debut but how long can it last?
Right now Andy Green seems a little confused on just how to approach certain games to help create those needed runs. The Padres do rank 9th in MLB with 22 stolen bases, and do have 12 sacrifice bunts on the season, good for 7th. Still, they are 23rd overall in runs scored and 22nd in hits. How can they make that jump?
I am optimistic that Spangenberg and Solarte will really help this team in their return. Brett Wallace has shown that he is a pretty capable replacement as well, with some timely home runs and the best eye on the team with 13 walks in just 57 at bats.
Injuries are a big part of baseball, and if Tyson Ross can get back soon that would be a big boost. Drew Pomeranz is pitching outstanding, and James Shields is quietly putting together a much better 2016 campaign than his 2015 season though still plagued by the longball. However, if their injuries are behind them they can get a big boost with a full roster for the remaining three-quarters of the season.
All told considering their early schedule and the injuries, I’m pretty happy with where the Padres are. Their rotation is looking great as the bullpen has really been solidified by Ryan Buchter, Brandon Maurer and Fernando Rodney who still has not allowed a run this season. Only Wade Davis of the Royals has matched that though Kenley Janssen of the Dodgers has only allowed one. Their lineup is showing some pop, speed, and contact just not enough consistency.
Did you expect the Padres to have this record at this point? What are the keys to finishing the first half strong?