San Diego Padres: 3 takeaways from the series against the Chicago Cubs

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JULY 21: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres and Luis Urias #9 celebrate their 5-1 win against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 21, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JULY 21: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres and Luis Urias #9 celebrate their 5-1 win against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 21, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

The San Diego Padres lost their third straight series coming out of the All-Star break. Here’s 3 takeaways from the weekend loss to the Chicago Cubs.

Sitting at 47-52, the San Diego Padres have their backs against the wall in pursuit of a playoff spot. They’re 5.0 games back from the wild card and falling fast.

The Friars were hoping to bounce back from a disappointing series loss to the Miami Marlins, but instead ran into the red-hot Chicago Cubs. Losing 5-6 two nights in a row, San Diego managed to avoid the sweep with what felt like a dominant performance in a 5-1 win.

Unfortunately, the Padres have gone 2-7 to start the second half of the season after rolling into the All-Star break. They have 63 games left, but it won’t take nearly that many to figure out where this team is headed this year.

Here are three takeaways from the San Diego Padres weekend series at Wrigley Field.

Defense kills

The Friars shot themselves in the foot over and over again against Chicago. Having three errors this weekend, San Diego’s defense seemed out of sync and in a funk that they just couldn’t pull out of.

In particular, Fernando Tatis Jr. had a rough time both on the field and in the box. He was responsible for a couple rare, costly errors, along with a few defensive miscues that weren’t charged as errors but still shifted the momentum; he missed a toss in Game 2 for what should’ve been a routine double play, instead forfeiting the lead in the eighth inning.

Franmil Reyes also had tough time on the field. Earlier in the game, the right fielder poorly misread a ball that sailed over his head, allowing a couple runs to score on what should’ve been an easy putout. Reyes has really struggled defensively this season, being worth -8 defensive runs scored and a -3.3 DEF. His defense is one of the reasons we would be okay with trading him away.

Being rusty might’ve been an appropriate excuse when playing the Atlanta Braves, but it’s now been more than a week since the All-Star break. Defensive errors at this point are inexcusable, and the Padres are seeing first-hand how costly they can be.

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Clutch factor not in play

San Diego’s offense appears to have stuttered, unable to get anything going when they need it the most.

Over the weekend, the Padres left a combined 24 runners on base and went 6-for-24 with runners in scoring position. Going .250 with RISP isn’t awful, but the Friars will need to send those runners home if they want to manufacture runs.

In particular, the Padres seem unable to string together hits, and runs, in a stable and consistent fashion. A little over 50% of their runs are scored via the long ball, and we see players too often swing for the fences and not for base hits. This type of offense is unsustainable in the long run — we’re seeing it now, with the Padres fizzling fast after the break.

A few players like Eric Hosmer, Manny Machado, and Tatis Jr. are definitely carrying the team when it comes to the clutch factor. Machado and Tatis Jr. are hitting well over .350 with two outs and RISP, while Hosmer has an incredible .429 BA in the situation.

That’s what you want out of some of your best hitters. As a team though, the Padres are a combined .228/.305/.394 with two outs and RISP, and they’re a lowly .238/.296/.427 in high-leverage situations.

Players like Manuel Margot and Francisco Mejía have shown improvements as of late, but the rest of the lineup will need to produce if this team wants to make moves this season. They’re lacking depth towards the end of the lineup and it shows.

That said, San Diego might’ve finally had enough — they recalled Luis Urias to play second base, along with some other prospects to join the rotation.

Prospects prosper

The Padres brought up Luis Urias, Adrian Morejon, and Michel Baez on Saturday after their opening loss to the Cubs. It felt like a move that said “enough, we want to make the playoffs.” It was refreshing to say the least.

Those who played certainly impressed, too. Urias had a hit and run scored at four at-bats on Saturday, and though he was hitless on Sunday, the second baseman walked twice and scored two more runs. He looked fantastic on defense too, a serious upgrade over both Greg Garcia and Ian Kinsler.

Adrian Morejon also made his MLB debut. The 20-year-old prospect had only played 16 games in Double-A Amarillo, the highest level of minor league play in his young career. Despite the inexperience, the prospect had a nice outing and flashed some potential.

He started the game as an “opener,” going 2.1 innings and allowing one run to score on a groundout to first base. He finished the afternoon by allowing only three hits, striking out a batter and walking none.

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Cal Quantrill, meanwhile, stepped in and had another spectacular performance. After his admirable start against the Braves, where he went toe-to-toe with fellow rookie phenom Mike Soroka in a scoreless battle, Quantrill replaced Morejon and had himself a day.

The Canadian rookie went 5.2 very strong innings to keep the Cubs at bay, allowing only two hits and striking out six batters without a walk. He held the Cubs to their lone run from the first inning, then handed the keys to Kirby Yates in the ninth.

Quantrill has really impressed in his last two outings and could very well make a case for returning to the starting rotation.

At this point, it’s clear the Padres have a bright future. Their prospects are performing at all levels of the system, and the front office isn’t shy about rewarding them with big-league experience. We’ll learn a lot about where this team is headed in the next couple weeks, particularly as we approach the trade deadline.

Hopefully, the Game 3 win will kick the Friars into gear and get them moving again. They’ll begin a series against the struggling New York Mets, who sit at 45-54, on Tuesday, followed by a division series against the suddenly surging San Francisco Giants.

We’ll see if this team can thrive in the face of adversity. Nonetheless, we have a lot to look forward to, Friar Faithful.

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For complete coverage of the San Diego Padres 2019 season, be sure to visit Friars on Base all season long.