The 2016 Schedule: Surviving May and July

Recently at Baseball Prospectus I previewed the Padres 2016 season without dedicating a single word to the current team, instead focusing on what San Diego needs to do on the amateur side this year. In other words, I don’t think the 2016 squad has much of a chance.

I’ve been wrong before, however, and baseball’s baseball—anything can happen and it often does, without warning. If things break right, there’s enough talent on the field to make things interesting. In that light, I figured it’d be a good time to look at the schedule (plus Oscar tweeted about it the other night).

I went month by month, using BP’s projected standings to estimate opponent strength, and I also calculated the percentage of home games for the Padres in each month.

Month Opponent Projected Winning % Percentage of games at home
April .498 50
May .524 45
June .474 65
July .521 35
August .498 48
Sept./Oct. .511 57

April doesn’t look so bad, at least using BP’s projections. There are eight games against the Dodgers and Giants, sure, but there are also seven road games in Colorado and Philadelphia plus a nine-game home stand against the D’Backs, Pirates, and Cardinals (three teams BP pegs around .500).

May, on the other hand, is another story. The Padres will tour the best of the NL in the season’s second month, facing off a staggering 17 times with the Dodgers, Giants, Cubs, and Mets. The lone respite is an early-month three-game home series against the Rockies (there’s also four road games vs. the Brewers, but they’re projected for a similar record as San Diego).

If the Padres are still standing by June, look out—June’s schedule looks tantalizingly easy, at least as far as schedules go. Nearly two-thirds of the games are at Petco, and 17 tilts are against teams expected to finish fourth or worse in their respective divisions—teams like the Orioles, Rockies, Braves, and Reds. Even if the Padres stink, they should hold their own in June.

Shoot, here comes July. July looks tough, possibly tougher than vaunted May. July is where everything—provided everything is still standing—could come crumbling down. The easy part doesn’t come until the 29th—a three-game set at home vs. the Reds. The rest of the month looks a daunting task, highlighted by home sets against the Yankees and Giants and road trips to towns like Los Angeles, Washington, and Toronto.

By the time August hits, the schedule probably won’t matter much. If the Padres are still hanging around by then, it won’t be the teams they’re facing that holds them back. And if they’re out of it, well, then it doesn’t really matter either way. The season’s most grueling stretches—giving trust to our projections—should be May and July, two months that bookend a welcomed soft slate in June.

It could be a long ride. But it could be worse—it’s still baseball, ya know. And there’s always June.

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  • Jefe

    It would be nice if we still had a shot by the ASB and at least be in shouting distance (when by last year, all our early hopes and dreams were pretty much crushed). Perhaps it’s a good thing to have so many games early against the Dodgers with their injury problems (looking for anything positive to hold onto here). I was one of the “irrational optimists” last year, and after that big disappointment I think I’m a bit more level headed this year about our chances, but like the saying goes “Hope springs eternal”.

    • ballybunion

      Thanks for mentioning the ASG. The All-Star break gives us TWO Julys. Preller won’t trade our All Star representative before the game, will he? I’m guessing he’ll be busy negotiating with the June Draft picks and signing international players the whole month, and forget about the trading deadline (kidding!).

      The crux is the pitching, the main tradable commodity. If it’s good, the team will be good, and it will be hard to trade them away. If it’s bad, then they’re worth less in trade. The pitching would have to be good and the team bad for Preller to be looking for trades, and how likely is that? Oh, wait – I just described 2014 didn’t I?

  • Billy Lybarger

    A tough July could make AJ Preller’s decision to trade of assets for prospects a bit easier.

    • Pat

      If only he had any assets! I kid, I kid.