It’s all about expectations. If you’d told me before the season that the Padres would have 76 wins on September 1, I’d have been thrilled. If you’d told me the same on August 25, when they won their 76th game, not so much.

Bad time for a six-game losing streak. Then again, is there ever a good time for one?

This whole “jump out to an early lead and then stop playing” thing isn’t sitting well with me. Give the Diamondbacks credit: They’ve been playing good baseball. That home run Mark Reynolds hit Tuesday night… it’s like watching Mark McGwire. The only thing that would have made it better is if it hadn’t come against the Padres.

The umpiring has been a bit spotty. Seems like the Padres (might) have gotten screwed on some close plays at first the past couple games. Then again, if they’re taking care of business, a questionable call here and there doesn’t matter… and doesn’t get Bud Black tossed from the game.

In fairness to Black, he’d probably gotten tired of watching… if I were him, I’d have snuck into the clubhouse and switched over to “White Collar,” but that’s just me. At the very least, Neal Caffrey would not be afraid to pitch inside to hitters.

It’s funny, I’d wanted to pin this all on the pitching staff, particularly the starters. But a quick check of the numbers (those pesky numbers) is revealing. Here are the starters’ ERA by month this year:

Player           Apr  May  Jun  Jul  Aug  Tot
Mat Latos       6.20 1.54 2.37 1.04 1.69 2.29
Jon Garland     2.57 1.85 5.28 5.02 2.39 3.29
Clayton Richard 3.00 3.00 2.31 6.00 3.57 3.50
Wade LeBlanc    0.52 5.81 2.70 4.11 6.47 4.15
Kevin Correia   3.86 5.22 7.83 3.90 7.20 5.52

A few items to note:

  • These five men have started all but two of the Padres’ 131 games this season. That’s not quite 2003 Mariners territory, but it’s close. Cory Luebke will be third “non-regular” (Chris Young and Tim Stauffer are the others) to start when he goes against the Rockies on Friday.
  • Except for May April, when everyone but Latos pitched well, typically two-fifths of the rotation has struggled in any given month. LeBlanc and Correia were the weak links in May, Garland and Correia in June, Garland and Richard in July, LeBlanc and Correia again in August. In other words, it’s been a group effort.
  • Latos is a beast. Since May 1, his ERA is 1.67, best in MLB by a comfortable margin (Tim Hudson is second, at 2.08). I wish Latos were a few years older and capable of handling a bigger workload (I know he’s itching to keep pitching, but you have to protect that arm).

This team has overachieved all year. People have doubted the Padres, and with good reason. Coming off 99- and 87-loss seasons, and with the second lowest payroll in baseball, they looked like a lost cause.

Now they are playing like one, and I imagine folks are doubting the team again. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have concerns. There are two good ball clubs chasing the Padres, and if the overachievers from San Diego don’t get back to playing smart baseball soon, they could find themselves looking up before long.

The Padres are not the sort of team that can afford to get runners picked off first base down 6-2 or have a pitcher groove an 0-2 fastball to an elite power hitter. They simply do not have the talent to overcome such critical lapses. If the Padres don’t play smart, as they have been doing much of the year, they are toast.

Toast? Playoffs? I know which I prefer… even if you can’t put peanut butter and jelly on the playoffs.

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13 Responses »

  1. Typo alert! GY, I think you meant “Except for April, when everyone but Latos pitched well”

  2. You are correct, sir. Thanks!

  3. It’s been a group effort, but it’s kind of been a Correia +1 all year. When is it time to bump him to the ‘pen? Other teams in contention have bumped struggling starters all year, but for some reason the Padres seem content with running KC out there every 5 days. It seems like his time as the offense’s good-luck charm has run out, so why not give someone else a shot? The guy had a career year last year, but isn’t it time to realize SF was right about him?

  4. Mmmmmmmmmm, peanut butter and jelly!!!!!!

    It’s tough to watch right now, but this is really the first rough patch they’ve gone through. The longest losing “streak” prior to this was 3 games in May (and turned into 6 out of 8). They also lost 6 of 9 to start the season, but that was pretty well offset by an 8-game winning streak. Point being they’ve been really good and really consistent all season long. A bad stretch is/was inevitable. It is a concern, as Geoff notes, but they should pull through; I believe they’ll pull through.

    If not, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a cold glass of milk will serve to console me. ;-)

  5. Another bit of perspective: over the last 10 games the Giants have only picked up 1 game, the Rockies did pick up 4, but are still 7 back. Over the last 20 games no one gained any ground and over the last 30 games only the Rockies gained, picking up 2 games (and remember they’re still 7 back)!

  6. Latos and Richard have been our top two guys in terms of winning after a loss this season – Latos is 7-2, Richard 5-3 in those situations. Enright’s been tough since being called up, but Latos has been the best pitcher in baseball since 1 May as you point out.

    We’ll get today’s game. Besides, don’t we always win 1 game in Arizona?

  7. I think if you HAD to pick a time for the Padres to sputter it’d be now since they still have a decent lead and it happened right before the more important NL West games coming up.

    Of course they need to break the streak first, but I’m hopeful with Latos pitching today they can escape Arizona with a win, go home and prepare for the 10-game home stand on a winning note.

  8. My best interpretation is that this scares the team/fans, gets us re-focused on the stretch drive.

  9. When the Padres led by Latos win the game today, that would make the Padres .500 v. the Snakes in the past two 3-game series. The first five games featured blowouts by the winning teams.

    The 3-game sweep by the Phillies was more exciting. Game 1 was a 1-run game in extra innings. Game 2 was a low scoring game decided by Victorino’s triple in the 7th inning. Game 3 wasn’t a laugher until Sweeney golfed a low inside pitch for a HR, with the Padres helping the Phillies by making 4 errors.

    So, really, it’s not that bad of a skid, only the timing is making it look worse. All will be well again. The next homestand is going to be the deciding stretch; this one is just to make things more interesting.

  10. I am really hoping that CY will make a strong showing as he gets back into the starting rotation and the Padres can then bump KC to the pen. I have always thought that KC was just a mediocre pitcher who benefited from uncommonly high run support. On the other hand, too, it seems that Black usually leaves KC in the game a couple batters too long. That being said, it seems the offense is not working the counts and getting walks like they did earlier. Headley has been going well, but everyone else seems to be pressing. Even with the Pads on a 6 game slide, they are still 4 up in the division. Go SD!! Let’s get on a roll again!

  11. Rough patches are inevitable, but I think the Padres are going to be just fine. I think Black was a little quick to the pen through out the year, and there is a little fatigue down there, but the September call-ups should help that. The extra fielders won’t hurt either, as Black can put the best defensive team on the field late in games. And finally, getting Hairston (and now Torrealba) back in a week or two should help. Based on the body of work this year, I think Hairston needs to start at 2nd over Eck when he gets back.

  12. Seriously, Padres’ hitters, you all suck.
    Against Enright, who had issued at least one walk in all his starts prior to today’s game, the Padres couldn’t manage one.

    This against a pitcher whose BB/K is 22/39 prior to today’s game.
    Here’s some numbers: 7, 7, 8, 13, 7, 17 – the numbers of pitches thrown in the first six innings by Enright. Meanwhile, the Snakes are taking their lumps against Latos while making him throw a lot of pitches: 22, 13, 10, 17, 18, 18 in 6 IP.

    After six innings, it was a 1-1 game and Latos was out of the game.


  13. I’m finally reading through all the comments after the seventh straight loss, and I love seeing optimism in the face of adversity. We may well be hosed, but there’s not much we can do about that… might as well enjoy the ride…

    @zmac: The Padres are in a tough position with Correia. He was one of the few bright spots in a dismal 2009 and I have to think that Bud Black is showing some loyalty there. I imagine that Correia’s off-field issues haven’t helped matters. Still, I would like to see Tim Stauffer get a look or two. And I’m interested to see what Cory Luebke can do on Friday, although I’m keeping expectations low.

    @Mike: And Latos pitched well enough to win again, but no dice. The season… she is long, no?

    @Jay: I like it. Fear is a great motivator.

    @Brian: I would love to see CY back doing his thing, although I’m not sure how effective he’ll be after missing so much time.

    @Didi: Yeah, the approach against Enright seemed to be a bit lacking. Paging Randy Ready: Please get your hitters to do whatever it is they’ve been doing all year.