San Diego Padres: Keys to getting back on track in June

May 31, 2017; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres first baseman Wil Myers (4) in the field during the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
May 31, 2017; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres first baseman Wil Myers (4) in the field during the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

The San Diego Padres hit the lowest point of the season thus far in the month of May. What must they improve upon as the calendar turns to June to stay competitive?

At dead last in the National League West standings and near the bottom of all of baseball according to experts, the San Diego Padres were about ready to head for another 90+ loss season. To many fans, another summer of rebuilding seemed nothing short of inevitable.

Not that anything has changed drastically over the past four games, but a winning streak including a three game sweep of the defending World Champion Chicago Cubs gives the club much more of an optimistic outlook heading into June.

San Diego will begin action this month at 22-33, moving themselves just a half game away from getting out of their division’s cellar. While climbing back into playoff contention seems insurmountable, working back up towards .500 as best as the club can is a more reasonable goal for the month.

In order to do this, the Padres will need to improve in the following areas.

Rotation’s front end

In pretty much every case, pitching is the most essential to a baseball team’s success. Simply explained, the Padres have struggled immensely in the area of pitching, which helps explain their 33 losses.

What the Padres need more than anything right now is consistency from the front end of their rotation. The staff has gotten plenty of opportunity to show off their depth, and the starters near the bottom of the rotation have filled in nicely when called upon for the most part.

But Clayton Richard hasn’t been as dominant as many hoped, and Jhoulys Chacin and Jered Weaver have been far more disappointing. Though the front end of the rotation will show flashes of brilliance occasionally, there is absolutely no consistency. If the Padres want to win more games this month, they need to be able to rely more on their starting pitching. For this staff in particular, this means more stable production from the front end of the rotation.

Bench production

The unfortunate reality of any baseball season is that injuries will undoubtedly change the intended course of the season. While the Padres steered mostly clear of ailments early on, the disabled list became much more populated during May.

Injuries to the team’s core including center fielder Manuel Margot have forced others to step in, often times players fans may not even be familiar with.

So far, bench players have stepped in and done the job, for the most part. The play of Franchy Cordero and Matt Szczur has been adequate, and Hunter Renfroe has done an excellent job picking up the slack and becoming the clear leader of the outfield.

Even though the bench is doing their job filling in, they could still improve statistically. A dip in production when key pieces of the lineup go down is understandable, but the Padres could benefit from a stronger June from those filling in for Margot, Travis Jankowski, and Alex Dickerson.

Lineup continuity

When it comes to San Diego’s lineup, fans realize that they have some powerful run producers who are starting to get going. Still, overall output in May was no better than in the opening few weeks. Without a doubt, it’s frustrating.

The reason for this is simple. Yes, the Padres are beginning to hit, but it isn’t hard to notice that the majority of offensive production is a big hit or two, resulting in a single run or two. The club rarely rallies or puts up a crooked number in a single inning.

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While a lack of offensive outbursts isn’t easily corrected, the cause can at least partially be identified as a lack of lineup continuity. The young hitters, with the exception of the two seasoned vets on the team, Wil Myers and Yangervis Solarte, have a tendency to unsuccessfully pursue the big hit. They lack trust for the guy in the on deck circle, and have yet to develop the most effective offensive strategy – keeping the line moving. Fixing this will go a long way for the club’s confidence, as it will take pressure off everyone. As a result, the Padres will pull together many more rallies and put up game changing innings offensively.

Next: Areas crying out for improvement

Take heart, Padres fans. With the arrival of a new month comes a new opportunity for San Diego to shine in these areas and begin working their way back to .500. Most of all, it would be encouraging to see the continued development of the club translate into some more victories on the field for fans to enjoy.