Padres

Padres: Offense and Defense Aren’t Synced Up

The Padres have stumbled out of the All-Star Break, and the results have shown that the team isn’t firing on all facets.

The San Diego Padres have lost ground in the National League playoff race, as they find themselves last in the NL West at 47-52, five games out of the second Wild Card spot.

They’ve started the unofficial second half of the season with a bumpy 2-7 record (getting outscored 37 to 47 along the way) after entering the All-Star Break taking three-in-a-row from the Los Angeles Dodgers. But unlike then, the squad has not been clicking on all cylinders, with the pitching holding the team back.

The Padres’ team ERA is at an ugly 4.94 mark, with the starting rotation acting as the primary culprit. In nine games, they’ve amassed just 41.1 innings while allowing 29 runs (27 earned- 5.88 ERA) and an opponents’ .846 OPS.

But that is taking into account two strong starts from rookies Chris Paddack and Cal Quantrill. Remove their 13.1 innings, and the Padres’ starting staff has allowed 26 earned runs in 28 innings (8.36 ERA) with a 1.96 WHIP. Not exactly helpful to the team.

On the flip side, while the offense hasn’t been world-beaters, they’ve been respectful and are getting performances from various bats.

Over the past nine games, free-agent signing, Manny Machado has amassed 11 hits on his way to a 1.009 OPS and five home runs. Young center fielder, Manuel Margot, has a 1.074 OPS with a couple of home runs in 33 plate appearances. This continues his strong play over the last 30 games, where he’s been hitting a robust .289/.398/.566 with four home runs.

And rookies Fernando Tatis Jr. and Francisco Mejia have a .825 and .875 OPS, respectively, with two home runs apiece.

Can they get better performances from across the lineup? Can Hunter Renfroe, Wil Myers, Eric Hosmer, and Franmil Reyes improve? Surely. And they are bound to raise their play as they’ve proven all season long that they can hit. Not to mention, it’s only been nine games, which is a small sample size.

However, the reason the pitching struggles are a bit more disturbing is that it was the Padres’ Achilles heel heading into 2019- particularly the starting rotation because of their youth, inexperience, and lack of quality options.

Eric Lauer was supposed to take a step forward this year, but the young lefty is the same pitcher as last, which isn’t a good thing. Rookie Logan Allen has allowed 15 runs in his previous three appearances, while Joe Luchessi has a 4.27 ERA.

Right-hander Dinelson Lamet recently made his season debut after recovering from Tommy John surgery, so we shouldn’t expect him to be mowing down hitters anytime soon.

Even Quantrill, who has put together back-to-back impressive outings, had a 4.83 ERA in 11 outings before then. And Chris Paddack is a rookie who already showed signs of hitting one rookie wall, so it’s not out of the question he struggles once more.

The starting rotation is young, with the most experienced arms, mediocre-at-best. Asking such an inexperienced staff to perform in a playoff chase consistently is asking a lot because you can’t trust young pitching. It’s the main reason why the Padres have a -45 run differential.

The best teams are the ones that fire on all cylinders, save for expected slumps here and there. But even when one of the parts of a good team is temporarily broken, it’s up to the other units to pick them up.

When the offense is struggling, your pitching needs to hold the fort down and either protect a lead or keep the game within reach. On the other side, if the pitching can’t shut down the opposition, hope that a lineup full of talent can carry the load.

Take the Dodgers, for example. Their bullpen has been one of the worst in the game, but their starting pitching has been so good that it’s hidden the relief corps from hurting as much as it could have, while the offense has made up for their late-game blunders. Hence, the best record in the game.

Unfortunately for the Padres, they’ve been a highly-flawed team that’s missing perhaps the most important cylinder. And in the long-run, a subpar rotation will always anchor a group down from winning, regardless of how the offense hits.

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