|Manuel Margot - CF||Adam Jones - RF|
|Franmil Reyes - RF||Ketel Marte - CF|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Wilmer Flores - 2B|
|Hunter Renfroe - LF||David Peralta - LF|
|Eric Hosmer - 1B||Christian Walker - 1B|
|Fernando Tatis Jr. - SS||Eduardo Escobar - 3B|
|Ian Kinsler - 2B||Nick Ahmed - SS|
|Austin Hedges - C||Carson Kelly - C|
|Matt Strahm - LHP||Merrill Kelly - RHP|
Wait, what? Yes. If you look at the standings, you will see San Diego on top of the National League West, a full two games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers. It has been a while. In fact, the last time the Padres were in sole possession of first place was more than eight years ago, four games into the 2011 season, when their 3-1 record gave them a half-game lead. The last time they had a lead as big as currently? September 8, 2010. Of course, it helps that the two teams expected to battle for the division, the Dodgers and the Rockies, have both stunk of late. The Dodgers have dropped five in a row, and the Rockies need to stage a comeback against the Giants if they’re to avoid losing their eighth straight.
But it has been that kind of season. The five teams that made the playoffs just last year from the National League currently have a combined record of 32-37. The situation is almost as bad in the American League: 38-36. If the playoffs started today, seven of the ten who reached the 2018 post-season would miss out - the Indians and Astros would play the American League wild-card game. Of course, we’re less than 10% of the way through the season, so there’s plenty of time for things to change. 14 games into the schedule last year, the division leaders in the NL were the Mets, Pirates and D-backs, with the Phillies owning the first wild-card spot. Ask any of them how their 2018 playoffs went.
For now, the D-backs will be looking to score some runs against the Padres. something they have had trouble doing. Save for the sixth inning on Thursday, anyway, outside of which they have managed to cross home-plate just three times in the 27 other previous frames against San Diego. We’ll also see if Kelly - no, the other one - can sustain his excellent start on the mound, which see him currently in possession of the lowest ERA by any of our starters. Let’s just file this away, and remember it when it comes time next year to worrying about numbers in spring training...