Apologies to my subscribers. I don’t normally publish two posts in one day, but some issues can’t wait.
This past Spring, I was really looking forward to the start of the MLB season. My San Diego Padres had had an excellent COVID-shortened 2020 season, going 37-23 (.617) and winning the NL Wild Card Series against the Cardinals, only to fizzle against the Dodgers in the NLDS due to pitching woes. In the offseason, the Pads picked up pitching aces, Matt Snell and Yu Darvish, to shore up the staff.
The Padres started this season extremely well. Their 34-19 (.642) record at the May 29th mark was the best in the entire MLB. Let that sink in. With one-third of the season under their belt, the Padres were king of the MLB hill. At the All-Star break, the Padres had slipped a bit to 53-40 (.570), but no one was hitting the panic button.
However, after the All-Star break, the Padres descended into a death spiral of draconian proportions, winning only 25 of their last 68 games. Things were especially bleak the last 28 games played in September-October with the Padres winning just 7 of those contests. Here’s a sobering stat: after August 10th, not one of the other 29 MLB teams compiled more losses than the 13-34 Friars. Not the Orioles. Not the Diamondbacks. Nobody. Such a catastrophic collapse points to one thing: although they would deny it, the players collectively gave up. The Padres finished with a final record of 79-83 (.488), third in the NL West. No one, and I mean not one soul on the planet had figured the Padres would finish below .500 at the start of the season.
Much of the Padres’ troubles were due to pitching, with both injuries and ineffectiveness plaguing the staff. Team ERA for the overall season was 4.10 (#8 NL), but post-ASG was 5.04 (#11 NL). Joe Musgrove (3.18) was the only starter with an ERA under 4.0. Snell and Darvish were both disappointing.
Good managers find a way to win. When a roster this talented completely self-destructs, as the Padres did, a good portion of the blame must go to the skipper, Jayce Tingler. There’s a very good chance he will be fired shortly after this is published. But what about GM A.J. Preller? Doesn’t he share some of the blame for selecting a wide-eyed guy to fill the manager role who had zero managerial experience.
There’s a good chance 22YO Fernando Tatis Jr. will win NL MVP, a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season. The Padres have a good foundation for 2022. Let’s hope they hire a manager who has the wherewithal to lead the talented roster to the postseason.