Reds magnify Padres' biggest problem in depressing series opener

What has happened to the Padres' bats?
San Diego Padres infielder Jake Cronenworth
San Diego Padres infielder Jake Cronenworth / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

The San Diego Padres got a leadoff home run from Jurickson Profar and then the bats went silent until there were two outs left in the ninth inning. The Friars late-game rally fell short, and San Diego dropped their fifth straight game, losing the series opener against the Cincinnati Reds by a final score of 5-2.

Reds' starter Nick Lodolo was on another level during Monday night's game at Petco Park. The former first-round pick saw Profar leave the yard in the first inning and allowed back-to-back walks to open the second frame before locking down the Padres' hitters. At one point, Lodolo sat down 18 consecutive San Diego hitters, and the Reds as a team retired 23 straight batters.

While the Friar faithful should probably just tip their cap to Lodolo, his dominance over the Padres' bats revealed one of San Diego's most glaring weaknesses. This year's ball club is horrific against left-handed pitching.

Reds magnify Padres' biggest problem in depressing series opener

Padres manager Mike Shildt went with almost an entirely right-handed hitting lineup on Monday night. The only left-handed batter in the Padres' lineup was Jake Cronenworth. But the Padres first baseman was 0-for-3 against Lodolo with one strikeout. In fact, every single one of the players in the Padres starting lineup struck out at least once when Lodolo was on the mound.

The Padres have been atrocious against southpaws this season. Outside of Profar and Eguy Rosario (who struck out twice on Monday), every single Padres hitter has a batting average below .250 against left-handed pitchers in 2024. Cronenworth, Manny Machado, Xander Bogaerts, and Ha-Seong Kim are all hitting under .200 against lefties.

The Milwaukee Brewers (.179) are the only team in the National League that have a lower batting average against left-handed pitching this season than the Padres (.184). Though the Friars have the fourth-most walks against lefties this season, San Diego's on-base percentage (.284) is only ahead of the Brewers and Miami Marlins.

Thankfully the Padres will skip another left-hander, Andrew Abbott, during their current series against the Reds. But if the Friars don't figure out how to attack left-handed pitching, there's no way this year's team will reach the postseason.

San Diego was among the best in the NL against left-handers last season, but Garrett Cooper, Gary Sanchez, and Matthew Batten were three of the most productive bats when facing southpaws in 2023. Cooper and Sanchez have moved on, and Batten is in the minors. Something's got to give, because the Padres can't afford to suffer through another outing like they did on Monday night.

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