We’ve almost hit the one week mark in the still very very young season and we’ve tasted both the saccharine highs and the somewhat familiar bitter lows of Padres baseball in that time. Tons of takes and reactions have hit Padres Twitter and many fans are contemplating what lies ahead for the 2019 squad. Let’s dive into some of what we learned, gut checks, and what’s next for our Padres.
Starting Pitching: Work in Progress
Eric Lauer looked every bit the optimal choice for Opening Day starter against the Giants, pitching an absolute gem in 6 innings of 4 hit ball with 3 punchies and only 1 free pass. Eric Lauer then looked every bit the sophomore pitcher in his last appearance yesterday against the Diamondbacks, coughing up 4 earned runs and making the Pitchers Who Rake® tag relevant by allowing 2 dingers to opposing ace Zack Greinke. As a control-first pitcher without premium velocity, Eric will have to hope last night’s contest was more an aberration than trend.
Joey Lucchessi may prove to be the most consistent lefty in the mix. A good game here (Game 2 was very good), a laugher down the road. Pencil him in for like 150 IP and under a 4 ERA and call that progress. I don’t think it a stretch to place Joey Fuego higher than Lauer.
I like Nick Margevicius. Jumping from A ball to the bigs and putting up 5 innings of 3 hit ball is far and away a huge accomplishment for a pitcher getting such a promotion. That being said, Nick Vicious pitches in much the same way as rotation mate Eric Lauer: control with not much velocity (his fastball topped 90ish, maybe?). If he sticks in the rotation, he’ll take some knocks and maybe surprise you again. I imagine if a trade for starting pitching occurs Large Marge will be the first guy on the Quackenbush Express, however.
Do you really need me to say anything about Chris Paddack that hasn’t already been sung in accolades echoing throughout Petco Park? He’ll be the best pitcher in the rotation this year until he’s shut down in July. He only has two pitches, but maaaaan are they good pitches. When the curveball catches up it’s not even going to be fair.
Matt Strahm had a bad debut. Matt Strahm is better than that one game. Don’t give up on Matt Strahm.
My conclusion? The San Francisco Giants are hot garbage this year and will save us the indignity of finishing last in the division.
Manny Machado: As advertised?
Defensively, yes. At the plate, our new franchise cornerstone is pressing while being fed nothing but breaking balls in or away. His presence in the lineup is paying dividends in other ways, however: since Manny is planted at 3rd both in the lineup and in the field, the combo of Eric Hosmer/Wil Myers in the 2 hole is batting .500. You may or may not believe in the concept of lineup protection…but the numbers are saying something interesting in the very early going.
No, I don’t want to talk about the “catcher interference” call. The media seems intent on portraying Manny as a villain (which may include some unsavory racial undertones). Don’t let false narratives cloud your outlook on Machado; his play will do the talking.
Fernando Tatis Jr.: As advertised.
FT2 is a joy to watch on the field. He’s already turned very impressive defensive plays at short and is showing his potential at the plate. Aren’t you happy he’s with the team now rather than stuck in El Paso?
There also seems to be something good going with Wil Myers, left fielder and sometimes (urgh) center fielder. In 6 games Wil is hitting .421 with 2 home runs and 2 swiped bags. While his defense in left is serviceable going into adventurous at times, one can only hope the consistency flows onward and Wil continues to unlock the potential many have seen in him.
Other Reactions and Takes
- Questions on who should get the glut of playing time behind the dish linger on into the season. Austin Hedges has received a fair majority of dish time and is hitting in the early goings despite cries for Francisco Mejía to get his share of time thanks to his potential with the bat. Mejía’s defensive liabilities reared their head in last night’s 8-5 stinker against the D-Backs, which may quiet the calls for equal playing time. No, I don’t want Chris Stewart. Stop saying that, Kevin Acee.
- The outfield defense including the aforementioned Wil Myers is looking average at absolute best. Manny Margot will be as consistent as they come in center and is honestly the only reason why I type “average at best”. Franmil Reyes isn’t very fast. Hunter Renfroe is prone to the overthrow. Franchy Cordero has all the tools to be great and still has questionable defense.
- Given that the 2018 bullpen was historically good, it was only reasonable to think 2019 would see some regression…and it’s happening. I wouldn’t hit the panic button yet, but a young rotation with pitchers who can’t (or shouldn’t) make it to the 6th will require decent bullpen depth. The Padres seem to pull relievers out of thin air (have you heard about Javy Guerra converting?), so these worries may be alleviated soon. The trade for Matt Wisler and the return of Dinelson Lamet later in the season may help level out the early returns on Big Game Bob Erlin and Phil Maton.
What are your biggest takeaways with the very short sample size of the season we have so far? What are you most looking forward to?