San Diego Padres: Series Against Phillies, Manuel Margot Spotlight

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 13: Manuel Margot #7 of the San Diego Padres scores ahead of the throw to Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs at PETCO Park on July 13, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 13: Manuel Margot #7 of the San Diego Padres scores ahead of the throw to Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs at PETCO Park on July 13, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /
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The San Diego Padres and Philadelphia Phillies will begin a three-game set tonight in Philly.

The much-needed 2018 MLB All-Star break has come and gone, giving San Diego Padres fans time away from watching the Friars limp into the break. The “second-half” of the season begins with a six-game east coast swing against the Phillies and the New York Mets, before returning to Petco Park on July 27th.

San Diego enters the state of Pennsylvania having lost their last five games and eight of their last ten. A 40-59 record places them 14.5 games out of first place in the National League West and gives the Padres the worst record in the entire National League. Only the Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, and Chicago White Sox have a worse winning percentage, entering Friday.

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While the overall team performance left much to be desired, there are a few individual players who enter the next phase of the season on hot streaks.

Manuel Margot and Austin Hedges have been two of the more pleasant surprises over the last few weeks. Margot is hitting .284 with a .356 over his last 23 games, including nine walks, a team-high seven doubles, and just nine strikeouts. He appears to be fully healed from his rib shot against the Rockies early on in the season (you can’t tell me a shot like that didn’t have lingering effects both physically and mentally).

In that same time frame, Austin Hedges has appeared in 15 games, hitting .320 with a .870 OPS. His 16 strikeouts in 50 at-bats are far from ideal, however, he started to hit the ball. Although, his offensive growth may not be of such a high concern for many with the addition of former Cleveland Indians top prospect, Francisco Mejia.

Carlos Asuaje has also been hitting the baseball well recently (.343 in last 35 at-bats) but the focal point here is Manuel Margot. If there’s one player to watch closer than ever over the last 60-plus games, it’s Margot and his development at the plate.

Probable pitchers and game times.

Friday (7/20): 4:05 PM: Clayton Richard (7-8) vs Jake Arrieta (7-8)

Saturday (7/21): 4:05 PM: TBD vs Vince Velasquez (5-8)

Sunday (7:22): 10:35 AM: TBD vs Nick Pivetta (6-7)

ESPN.com lists Luis Perdomo as the Saturday starter and Tyson Ross as the Sunday starter but MLB.com lists TBD. We will update this post once pitching assignments are officially announced by the San Diego Padres.

The Phillies are in the thick of the National League playoff race, attempting to fight off the Atlanta Braves and the Washington Nationals in the East. Facing a playoff contender right out of the second-half gate isn’t fun but, hopefully, the excitement of yesterday’s transactions and a few days off have allowed fans to recharge the batteries.

Next: Padres Send Brad Hand To Cleveland Indians