The Padres finished their first road series, winning five of seven games. They easily swept the Rangers, while splitting the four-game series against the Pirates. They are coming back to San Diego to face the formidable Dodgers for a three-game series at Petco Park. Currently, both the Padres and Giants are sitting 2.5 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West.
In the early goings of the season, it is hard to see how the rest of the season might fair. The Padres are facing their archrivals, the Dodgers, a total of seven times by the end of April. These games will be extremely important for laying the groundwork for the rest of the season.
If the Padres can come away with some key victories against the Dodgers this early into the season, this will inevitably help them to stay in contention by the season’s end. So, let us look at some key factors to the Padres’ first winning road series:
Picking up right where they left off in Tx
There is no denying that last year’s trip to Ranger’s stadium was the jumpstart that they needed. Last year, they began their record-breaking Grand Slam streak, leading to a seven-game winning streak. And this year was also one for the history books.
The hometown kid, Joe Musgrove, pitched the franchise’s first no-hitter by striking out 10, walking zero, and only hitting one batter, over 112 pitches. This was the kind of jumpstart that the Padres needed since they were coming off their losing series against the Giants. Musgrove ultimately lit the spark for the Padres to eventually sweep the Rangers before heading to Pittsburgh to face the Pirates.
Cold in Pittsburgh
The Padres would ultimately split the four-game series with the Pirates, so it’s not like the wheels completely came off during the series, but there are some key take-aways that the Padres need to contend with in terms of moving forward.
The first is being able to capitalize when opportunities are given to them. The game on 4/13, was one of the worst offensive outings I have ever seen in my time watching the Padres.
Now in their defense, it was also one of the worst pitching performances by the Pirates, who went on to hit three Padres batters, hitting J. Mateo twice and T. Pham once. Their pitching accuracy was, to put it nicely, on the wild side. The Padres more than likely had no idea what to expect every time they stepped into the batter’s box.
Between the two ball clubs, they left a combined total of 50 runners on base, 28 of them stemming from the Padres alone. To dive even deeper, the Pirates would go on to walk 13 Padres batters, who could only capitalize on scoring two of those walked batters.
Currently, the Padres are sitting 8th in the league with hits per game, which is hovering around 8.29. This would inherently mean they are leaving runners on base. They are 4th in the league with a 7.93 left on-base percentage per game. The two statistics naturally coincide, if a team hits, they are naturally going to leave some of those base runners stranded. This also carries over to the league leaders, the Dodgers. The statistics in and of themselves are not worrisome, especially when viewed as this game alone being an outlier.
But what does have me worried as a Padres fan, is their average errors per game. They are sitting 2nd in the league with 0.93 errors committed per game. When facing a team like the Dodgers, who will capitalize on mistakes and make you pay for them? The Padres cannot afford to give anything away.
A bright spot
Coming out of Pittsburgh, the bat of Trent Grisham offering a beacon of hope for a sometimes struggling Padres offense. He hit his third home run in as many games on 4/13 and is now sitting comfortably with a .333 BA, an OPS of 1.179, and an SLG % of .750. When it comes to lead-off batters, that is exactly what you want.
In the four games before Grisham’s return, Jake Cronenworth had taken the leadoff spot. He is another key piece in the Padres lineup, and since April, he has only struck out four times. J. Cronenworth is sitting with a batting average of .356 and an OPS of .926.
Results are key
Ultimately, baseball is a results-based business. So far, the Padres have shown signs that they know how to win. In these early goings of the season, there are some key signs that the Padres can hopefully stay in contention throughout the season. Once some of their key stars return from the IL, like Tatis. Jr, W. Myers, and D. Lamet, they will only become stronger and better.