The San Diego Padres are in the midst of a lengthy stretch of road inter-league contests, meaning that their starting pitchers don’t need to be in the lineup. With the designated hitter introduced into the lineup for the first time, which Padre fits the role the best?
The San Diego Padres finish their four game series with the Texas Rangers on Thursday, the last of two contests held at the ballpark in Arlington. Immediately following, the club will travel to the south side of Chicago to face the White Sox in a three game series.
The Padres have had a number of road trips this season already, but this one is unique. The reason for this, of course, is that it is the first the team has as a part of inter-league play.
Since one of the main distinctions between the American League and the National League involves the designated hitter, the home club decides the rules when it comes to inter-league play. For the Padres, traveling to two AL parks this week, this means that they will have the opportunity to use a designated hitter in their lineup, and their starters can focus solely on pitching.
Since San Diego hasn’t been forced to contemplate who their DH would be to this point, the start of inter-league action on the road is another revealing time in the season. Whoever is utilized in the role is someone manager Andy Green clearly trusts, or someone he wants to grant a day off of action in the field.
On Wednesday, it was rookie Ryan Schimpf who got the nod. Schimpf is struggling so far this season, hitting just .170. But his power and run producing capability when he isn’t striking out is enough to make him an option in the middle of the lineup.
On Thursday, it will be third baseman Yangervis Solarte who will serve as the DH. Solarte has not had the best stats of his career so far in 2017, but he has acted as a true professional and has drove in 20 runs, the second most on the team.
Judging based on the personnel the Padres have on the roster and the rare times which they will need a designated hitter, it is safe to say that the club will fill this role by committee so to speak, and will not have a “starting” DH.
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Solarte and Schimpf are certainly capable due to their ability to produce a spark offensively. While Wil Myers would be a reasonable fit for the same reasons, to an even greater extent, placing him at DH would be more to give him a day away from his duties at first base.
Giving Austin Hedges a day off of starting at catcher would be beneficial, but then again his .182 batting average doesn’t seem to be DH material. Plus, putting Hedges in the lineup but not on the field would not maximize his strength, which is his defense.
The Padres have several options to play at DH. Of course, they theoretically could put anyone in the slot, but maximizing the run production potential is the goal. Since the opposing AL club will have the same opportunity to put out an additional natural hitter, the Padres need to keep up by adjusting to this baseball nuance. It may be Solarte one day, Schimpf the next, and Myers the next. Regardless, it will be beneficial for Andy Green and the Padres to give some of their top hitters a day away from the field while still being able to pencil them into the lineup.