San Diego Padres’ road trip will be a critical test for playoff hopes

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SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 10: Hunter Renfroe #10 of the San Diego Padres celebrates scoring on an RBI single by Wil Myers #4 during the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park on April 10, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 10: Hunter Renfroe #10 of the San Diego Padres celebrates scoring on an RBI single by Wil Myers #4 during the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park on April 10, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images) /
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The San Diego Padres’ next road trip against NL West rivals San Francisco and Colorado will test whether or not the team can make the MLB playoffs.

The San Diego Padres begin a six-game road trip on Tuesday, and how they perform against two other National League West teams will say a lot about the Friars’ playoff hopes.

Coming off of a disastrous homestand where they lost six of nine games and dropped their record back to .500, San Diego needs to right the ship and find some momentum if they want to be in the hunt for an MLB playoff spot. They can’t keep sliding early and put themselves at a disadvantage for the rest of the season.

And there’s no better opportunity for a team to gain ground than playing against the teams in their own division.

San Diego visits the San Francisco Giants for a brief two-game set, before taking on the Colorado Rockies for four games. The Giants are just over .400, so if the Padres can beat them that could be an easy way to pick up a game or two in the NL West standings.

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Meanwhile, Colorado is only a game and a half ahead of San Diego, so even splitting the series in Denver would massively improve the divisional picture for the Padres.

A few wins could take this currently just average team, and throw them right back into the hunt—not to mention be a nice morale booster after the way the homestand just went.

The pitching matchups this week are also favorable to the Padres, so these games will say a lot about the starting rotation, which has been inconsistent recently. Who’s able to deliver in a prime situation, and whose struggles weren’t just a bad day at the office?

Take the Giants set, for example. Chris Paddack is starting Tuesday’s game, followed by Joey Lucchesi in game two. Paddack was raved about earlier in the season, but he’s looked terrible the last two times out, allowing nine runs. So which Paddack is the real deal? The one with the excellent command that fans fell in love with, or have the wheels come off and the shine’s about to go with it?

Lucchesi was wonderful in May but stumbled in his only June start so far, when he immediately gave up four runs in the first inning and walked three. He came away with the win only because a big fifth inning offensively bailed him out. So like Paddack, who’s the real Lucchesi? These two are potential starters of the future, but they have to get back their past performance.

On the flip side, San Francisco is rolling out two pitchers who have never faced the Padres before in Tyler Beede and Shaun Anderson. Beede is winless in his MLB career with an ERA over eight, as Anderson’s ERA is over four. There’s no reason that the San Diego hitters shouldn’t be able to hit something off these pitchers.

This road trip will be a matter of consistency. Can Padres pitchers give up less runs, and can their position players take advantage of inexperienced pitching to score more of them? There isn’t one clear reason why this team isn’t better—both the hitting and pitching need to be more consistent. Playing against division rivals, especially when facing the part of their rotation that has never had to face you before, should be the perfect opportunity.

Probable pitchers haven’t been announced for the Rockies series, but the Padres need at least a split after they leave San Francisco. While the Giants have their issues, San Diego can’t afford to fall any further behind Colorado in the standings.

The way the Los Angeles Dodgers are playing, the gap to the top of the NL West is getting bigger and bigger, so the first step to closing it is to win and hope that the Dodgers lose. Anything less than a split series in Denver, and the Padres will also lose games in the standings. Should they do the unthinkable and drop all four, they could be fighting San Francisco to stay out of the cellar.

This is the Padres’ time, with division games out there for the taking and at least on one part of the schedule, pitching matchups that seem to lean heavily in their favor. This road trip will either renew the team’s hope for a playoff berth, or they’ll end up looking back on this as a missed opportunity.

dark. Next. Did Padres get short end of Trea Turner trade?

For complete coverage of the San Diego Padres 2019 season, continue following Friars on Base all season long.

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