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, 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.