San Diego Padres: Why aren’t the Friars in last place?

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 04: Manuel Margot
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 04: Manuel Margot /

Reasons the San Diego Padres are actually exceeding expectations in 2017 and are quite easily avoiding the National League West cellar.

108 games into the season, the playoff picture is coming into focus. And as is no surprise to anyone, the Padres aren’t in it. At 48-60, San Diego site 28.5 games back of the NL West leading Dodgers and a full 14 back of the second wild card spot.

However, the Padres still aren’t doing as poorly as so many thought. Especially recently, the club is holding their own. Thanks to an excellent July, the Friars have opened up a 7.5 game lead on the last place San Francisco Giants. It appears that they will avoid last place this season, despite being in one of the most obvious rebuilding seasons ever.

So, why aren’t the Padres in last place?

1. The Giants are

Sometimes you just gotta tip your cap. As much as the Padres may have wanted last place this season, they have been outright beat by the Giants. At 42-69, San Fran may have one of the higher payrolls, especially when it comes to their pitching staff. But for some reason, they’re losing. And obviously, that’s the top reason San Diego isn’t in the cellar.

2. Jose Pirela

He has been the anchor of the outfield for most of the season. When the Friars were tested with injuries to Travis Jankowski and Alex Dickerson, they put their outfield depth on display by inserting Jose Pirela. Pirela has hit leadoff but can still hit for power. His consistency and energy has inspired the team during difficult times. Pirela is certainly in the running for team MVP this season.

3. Lamet and Perdomo

Unfortunately, San Diego’s offseason spending spree on starting pitching has sort of blown up in their face. Jered Weaver is hurt, Trevor Cahill has been traded, and Clayton Richard has been inconsistent at best, downright awful at worst. The only pitcher they signed who has been productive this year has been Jhoulys Chacin. Other than that, they have needed to rely on youngsters Dinelson Lamet and Luis Perdomo to give them quality starts. These aren’t the pitchers you want to have to rely on, but it could certainly be worse thanks to how well they have progressed.

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4. Stepping up when called upon

Like most seasons, this year hasn’t been ideal for the Padres. They have had to dig deep into their organization to find players to fill temporary roles as well as seemingly permanent ones. Whether it’s Jabari Blash in the outfield, Carlos Asuaje in the infield, or Kyle Lloyd starting a game, these players have responded in a professional way even if they weren’t quite major league ready when called upon. The most recent example of this is 30-year-old shortstop Dusty Coleman, who has surprised since filling in for the injured Erick Aybar.

Next: Padres need Travis Jankowski’s defense and speed

Circumstances are far from ideal, but Padres fans can take heart knowing that they won’t be in last place for a long time. Though it’s not completely a credit to them, this shows that it isn’t all the Giants either. San Diego has exceeded expectations indeed. And while that won’t help them this year, it’s an encouraging sign for the future.