San Diego Padres: The division dilemma

The San Diego Padres are beginning to realize that they have a major problem. The National League West is very strong, making the club’s schedule all the more difficult.

 

To end a rough month of May, the San Diego Padres were finally getting it going. It was their first five game winning streak of the season, which included their first three game sweep of the year, against the defending champion Chicago Cubs of all teams.

Then, beginning on Saturday, June 3rd, San Diego lost five consecutive games and were dismantled in just about every contest.

What changed? Well, we can’t help but notice that the latest losing stretch began when the latest stretch of in division competition began. Not that this must be a reason for San Diego’s struggles, but it does bring to mind a major problem the club has that isn’t even their fault and is well out of their control.

The National League West, according to many, is baseball’s best division. It’s certainly reasonable to regard it as the deepest, with only the Giants and Padres currently sitting under .500, and it’s hard to believe that San Francisco will go away quietly. San Diego, a developing team trailing these four tough competitors, is bound to experience struggles.

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Early on, the Padres have played a schedule free of long stretches of divisional games. Just recently, this changed, and fans were hit with the unfriendly reality that winning inside of the NL West this season is going to be a tall task.

The Padres were cruising through the last week of May, winning five straight which included a three game sweep of the Chicago Cubs. Then, after taking the series opener from the Colorado Rockies, the club fell flat on their face for the next five contests, all against divisional opponents.

During this stretch, San Diego was outscored 45-11. The pitching was horrendous, as is evident by the average of nine runs surrendered, and the offense was non existent. What snapped the Padres out of such a horrible stretch? A home game against the American League’s Kansas City Royals. Coincidence? Possibly, but it shouldn’t go unnoticed that the Padres play their best baseball against out of division opponents.

It’s time for the Padres to step it up in division play, because the longer the season goes, the longer the stretches of divisional play will get. With the team clearly in rebuilding mode, expectations are low. But if they want to avoid losing 100 games, they will have to overcome their struggles against the tough Dodgers, Rockies, and Diamondbacks.

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