Padres: Three outstanding players in Astros series

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(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /
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The Padres swept all three games in their matchup against the Astros. Let’s look at three players who stood out in the series with Houston.

The series with the Astros was a good measuring stick for the Padres, and they passed the test with flying colors. Winners of all three games, that was a statement series, proving to the rest of the league that this team is for real. Which is hilarious because a week ago, this bullpen couldn’t stop giving up runs, and the offense was sporadic at best.

In the shortened season, every week is magnified that much further, and that’s why this past week could potentially be remembered as the turning point in the year. We discussed that this seven-game stretch was going to determine whether the Padres were going to become sellers again, but after taking all four games against the Rangers – and now all three against Houston – the Friars are definitely buyers at the deadline.

Friday and Sunday were both close matchups, and we have to give credit to the bullpen. They did an outstanding job, backing shortened Garrett Richards and Adrian Morejon starts. In the series finale, Morejon went just 1.2 innings, struggling with his command while he saw the Astros take a 3-0 lead. Good enough with Zack Greinke on the mound, right?

Not this Padres bunch. They chipped away at the lead, tying the game in the fourth inning, which would give way to Manny Machado‘s heroics in the bottom of the eighth inning. Machado has been one of the hottest hitters for the Friars lately, and he smoked a 3-2 pitch to the opposite field, giving the Padres a 5-3 lead.

A few minutes before that, Fernando Tatis Jr. had one of the best catches you’ll ever see.

Let’s look at several players who stood out in the series with the Astros.

1. Manny Machado

As noted, Machado has struggled this year, unable to catch up to the fastball for whatever reason. He entered the week batting .212 but turned it on for the Astros series. Including Sunday’s finale, the Padres $300M man went 7-for-14 with 5 RBI and has increased his average to .257 on the year. It’s no coincidence that the Friars have been one of the league’s hottest teams since Machado picked it up. He, along with Tatis, can flat out carry the offense at times.

2. Jake Cronenworth

The Padres may have a legitimate threat for both the NL MVP and NL ROY on their hands. Tatis has been out of this world, leading the league in several categories, but Jake Cronenworth is a budding superstar. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to make of him, given he was kind of a thrown-in in the Tommy Pham trade and had yet to make his Major League debut. We knew he could hit in the minors, but that’s about it. The 26-year-old is hitting a robust .347 on the year and smacked the team’s fifth grand slam of the week on Saturday.

3. Trent Grisham

Much like Machado, but with less financial pressure, Trent Grisham went through a rough stretch after a scorching hot start to the season. He entered Monday’s contest with the Rangers hitting .228. The 23-year-old broke out this weekend, hitting three home runs in Saturday’s blowout. He’s increased his average to .261 as the team’s new leadoff hitter. If not for burning through the minimum games to qualify for rookie status last year, the Padres might have two NL ROY contenders on their hands–a very good problem to have.

Honorable mention: Zach Davies

Zach Davies has been nothing short of incredible for the Padres, and a case could be made that he’s been the team’s best starter. The former Brewers farmhand was part of the Grisham deal this past offseason, and he bewildered the Astros on Saturday night, tossing 8.0 innings and allowing the bullpen an evening of rest. He also earned a new nickname from Grisham.

What’s next

The Padres are officially at the halfway point of the season. Did you expect them to be 18-12? If so, I’d suggest buying a lottery ticket. The team will get a much-deserved off-day tomorrow before welcoming in the Seattle Mariners for three games. Something to keep an eye on, manager Jayce Tingler and the team trainer ran out to check on Emilio Pagan with two outs in the ninth inning on Sunday. He indicated that he was fine, but it’s something to monitor.

Also, the trade deadline is looming. It wouldn’t hurt to add another bullpen arm. Enjoy this, Padres fans.

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