|Wil Myers - LF||Stone Garrett - LF|
|Juan Soto - RF||Emmanuel Rivera - DH|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Ketel Marte - 2B|
|Brandon Drury - 1B||Christian Walker - 1B|
|Ha-Seong Kim - SS||Carson Kelly - C|
|Jorge Alfaro - DH||Daulton Varsho - RF|
|Jake Cronenworth - 2B||Sergio Alcantara - 3B|
|Austin Nola - C||Corbin Carroll - CF|
|Jose Azocar - CF||Geraldo Perdomo - SS|
|Blake Snell - LHP||M. Bumgarner - LHP|
If you’re not going to reach the playoffs yourself, there’s nothing more satisfying than playing spoiler and taking a division rival out of the post-season picture. Last night’s win, with a rookie debutant pitcher blanking the Padres for the second time in eleven days, is definitely helping generate a sense of panic in San Diego. In his post-season comments, the usually placid Bob Melvin was clearly Not Happy. But Padres’ fans should be used to it by now. Their team has had a habit of melting down in the second half, like an ice-cream cone dropped on the pavement in the Gaslamp District. Here are the Padres records from the start of July, for every full season since GM A.J. Prellier took over:
- 2015: 37-46
- 2016: 35-48
- 2017: 38-44
- 2018: 29-38
- 2019: 28-51
- 2020: N/A
- 2021: 30-50
- 2022: 32-34
That’s seven seasons without posting a winning record after the end of June. Last year, it was as if a switch was flicked. San Diego ended June having won 11 of their last 12 games, just 21⁄2 games back in the division, and only the Giants had more wins in the National League. The rest of the way, they had the same record as the D-backs, and you know how much we sucked last season. They missed the playoffs, and manager Jayce Tingler got his cards as a result. This year, they started hot once again, and at the end of June they were - surprise! - 21⁄2 games back in the division. That was even without Fernando Tatis Jr, who had missed the entire season through injury.
The cracks started to show in July, the team going 11-14 while being outscored by 33 runs. However, the team was generally regarded as having won the trade deadline, acquiring Juan Soto, Josh Bell and Josh Hader, pumping their payroll up to almost $220 million. But despite the new arrivals, they have played barely .500 baseball in August and September. Tatis is no longer coming back, a PED suspension wiping out his season, and Soto has not had an extra-base hit since August 28, going 3-for-48 (.063) in that time. The franchise which was comfortably occupying the first wild-card spot at the end of June, is now just 11⁄2 up on the Brewers for the last playoff place.
The schedule does them no favors either. Of the 18 games remaining, they see playoff clubs in half of those (STL, LAD and CHW, albeit all at home), face a tricky trip to Coors Field, and have three against us and the Giants, both teams who won’t lack motivation to beat the Padres. Tonight is likely the most winnable game of the three remaining for San Diego, considering they face Zac Gallen and Ryne Nelson on Saturday and Sunday. Madison Bumgarner is 0-3 over four starts against the Padres this year, with a 5.29 ERA and throwing only 17 innings in total. It feels like a must-win for the visitors, if the Padres somehow don’t win this one, it will be absolute proof they are in very serious trouble.