San Diego is in the midst of a ten-game road trip. They go to Boston next, where the team boasting the best record in the AL plays. They will end in Maryland, against the preseason favorite to win the NL. And they started in Miami, against the team with the second-worst record in baseball. Heading into the just completed series many of us – perhaps you too – hoped the Padres would dominate Miami and make up some ground on the Diamondbacks in the process.
It didn’t work out that way.
Since 30 May the Marlins are tied with Pittsburgh for the best record in the National League (17-10). The Padres are 16-14 over that span but that’s small consolation. What’s concerning is that San Diego, since getting 2 games over .500 at 36-34, have lost 8 of 12. A large part of the problem has been the loss of Everth Cabrera, who hasn’t played since that 5-3 win over the Giants, and the subsequent short-circuit of the team’s offense. The Padres have scored 42 runs over those 12 games; they got nine of those runs in one shot last Friday night. If you’re wondering why they’ve lost 8 of 12, look no further than a lineup averaging less than 3.5 runs a game, and a pitching staff allowing just over 4.5 runs a game.
Indeed, over the past 14 days (the approximate time Cabrera’s been on the DL, and roughly matching their recent 12-game schedule) the Padres have posted a .297 wOBA and a 94 wRC+. By comparison, over the entire 2013 season they are a .306 wOBA and 100 wRC+ team. Even accounting for the small sample size that 14 days represents, the offense has suffered. The combination of Cabrera and Yonder Alonso on the DL at the same time has forced the bench guys to play far more than they should. Will Venable and Alexi Amarista have been disasters at the plate. Pedro Ciriaco has killed the Padres with his glove. Mark Kotsay has remained Mark Kotsay, so that’s good. Even Kyle Blanks has cooled off (.253 wOBA, striking out 31% of the time).
The lone bright spot offensively in all this, among the players pressed into service, has been the bat of Logan Forsythe. Forsythe has been the third most dangerous man in the Padre lineup, after Yasmani Grandal and Carlos Quentin. Forsythe has put up a .304/.361/.434 line, good enough for a .340 wOBA and 130 wRC+. The Padres haven’t missed Jedd Gyorko as much as they could have thanks to the hitting of Forsythe. Too bad Logan’s headed back to the bench once Jedd’s groin fully heals.
This isn’t just on the hitters, of course. Padres pitchers have struggled as well. Over this arbitrary 12 game stretch the starters have thrown 72 1/3 innings, the bullpen 42 2/3. Take away the extra inning games San Diego played on 24 and 26 June and the bullpen’s thrown 38 2/3 innings. That’s just over three innings a game. Now granted, the way baseball has devolved over the past 15-20 years, getting roughly six innings out of one’s starters is the norm, so this isn’t earth-shattering. But it is still a heavy work-load. Factor in the 8 extra-inning games San Diego has played since 29 May and it’s understandable why the team has been ferrying pitchers back and forth from Tucson recently to shore up the bullpen.
The good news is no one’s pulled away in the NL West while the team treads water, waiting for reinforcements. The bad news is the Padres are now closer to the bottom of the division than the top. The problem is the Padres will play two more very good teams on this trip. Everth Cabrera can’t return fast enough.
Posting sporadically about the Padres since 2009. Prattling on about baseball since Moby Dick was a minnow. Thanks to all of you crazy enough to follow on Twitter.