The Padres haven’t been performing of late, which makes this next series against the Dodgers all the more important if they want to make a statement about their title hopes. The Cloudbet Blog, led by Andrew Cunneen (@Cunneen92), takes a look at the three-game series which looks likely to go the LA way.
Statement needed - Padres struggling
So, here we are.
Another Dodgers series is upon us and make no mistake - we’re in a vastly different place than we were this time last month.
At time of writing, the Padres have not only found themselves slipping 2.5 games behind the Dodgers, but their worst fears were realised when the Giants’ early-season form cemented itself now that their .638 record leads all of baseball.
To make matters worse, Yu Darvish is coming off his worst start in the brown of San Diego, Blake Snell’s stuff more resembles James Shields’ fluffed lines, and they’ve optioned Ryan Weathers to AAA just after he had to piggy-back another shorter-than-you’d-like start in the majors after his rehab programme.
In what was somewhat of a forlorn hope, Jayce Tingler prayed that the return of Trent Grisham would spark an offense in need of better OBP.
It hasn’t provided that spark whatsoever, and no Padre is hitting .300 in June. Yes, there’s pop in their swings. They’re hitting homers because of arm talent and pitch recognition rather than discipline.
And that’s the thing with the major leagues - unless you’re locked into your process with no distractions, every opposing pitcher feels like they’re playing at a Cy Young level.
Tommy Pham was stabbed in the offseason and it seemed like he’d never play baseball again in the majors. When he did come back, he more resembled a member of the first Padres unit that Preller received.
It is not a good sign that Pham’s .292 leads all Padres for the month of June.
It’s also not a good sign that your two constants - the bullpen and your closer - are dipping.
The former is due to mismanagement and starting pitching not going deep enough, but the latter is likely the law of averages deciding that Mark Melancon was not going to be Closer of the Year for much longer - as he blew a save against the Reds in incredible fashion in the Pads’ first home game since full capacity returned to Petco.
Just for good measure, Wil Myers, whose contract is easily the most labouring of all at the club, is only averaging 2.7 plate appearances per strikeout. Oh, and that’s with no homers and no RBIs this month.
Tatis’ 3.05 ABs per strikeout isn’t much better but he’s hit six homers, drove in 12 runs and provides electricity and the potential for an intentional walk.
None of this is good. At times last year, the batting carried the Padres. For most of this year, the pitching has saved weak at bats. Now? Everything isn’t working and it’s doing so in tandem.
Series opener: San Diego Padres vs LA Dodgers
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The Dodgers aren’t as flashy as San Diego, either. Yes, the Padres ride a wave and go with it, while the Dodgers’ primary reason for being well behind the Giants is that their star power hasn’t really produced those amazing moments yet.
And it’s reflected in their batting average as a whole. But so is the consistency with which makes getting out of innings so tough. Justin Turner, who many would have forgiven falling victim to cost-cutting measures, leads the ball club with a .277 average.
But perhaps the biggest surprise is that of infielder Max Muncy slugging .528 - a number everyone believed him capable of, but waited for it to boil over.
Much like the Union-Tribune’s Padcast, Muncy is now hot lava that is flowing its way toward the Mexican border.
The psychology behind this series is fascinating. To this point, the Padres have been underwhelming and even at an early stage, they probably know they need to take all three games. Not just because they’re trailing the Dodgers, but because they’re trailing the Giants, too.
A statement needs to be made to ensure the Friars aren’t falling short of expectations in the most lifeless way possible - and the way to ensure this produces the runs required to compensate for tired arms is by having Tatis drive in runs from the cleanup spot.
Tommy Pham will get on base. After that? Anyone’s guess. But the Dodgers will take this series one way or another - it’s just a case of 2-1 or the sweep.
To have the best chance of landing the spoils here, wait to see where Jayce Tingler places Tatis in the lineup. If it’s at 1, 2 or 3... they’re being beaten in all three games.
If he’s at 4… - they should have enough pop to at least land a solitary win for what will become a salvage mission of a series that once promised so much.
In the National League winner market, no change since we last wrote to the top three, with the Dodgers at 2.64 (from 2.74), the Padres at 4.63 (from 5.45) and the Mets at 5.12 (from 6.14).
However, the Giants have now slid into fourth (at 8.90) and the Brewers to fifth (at 10.00). The Braves, who were sitting fourth (at 8.88) when we last wrote have slipped to sixth, and 16.1, while the previously fifth-placed Cards (at 11.9) find themselves eighth (at 19.5), having also been leap-frogged by the Cubs (at 18.7).
In the World Series winner market, the Dodgers remain favourites at 4.41, followed by the White Sox at 8.08 and the Padres at 8.46.