Padres Come Up Short In Postseason Hunt, But Not Without A Grand Effort
The San Diego Padres were picked by many, including myself, to win the NL West division, especially with their loaded lineup and pitching staff. But just like the New York Mets, who also faulted this season, the Padres also did not have the season, they and their fans had hoped for.
After the first 29 games, San Diego was 15-14, but was playing good ball, having won seven of their last 10 games. By the end of May, the wheels had started to come off as they ended the month sitting at 25-30, and eight games back in fourth place.
When June 30th rolled around, the Padres were 37-45, which they went 12-15 in the month, putting them even father back on the standings, at 11.5 back and nine back in the Wild Card Hunt.
The MLB Tradeline was on August 1st, and San Diego sat at 52-55, having pulled closer to .500 ball with a 15-9 month of July.
A day before the trading deadline, they made some moves by sending catcher Kevin Plawecki to the Texas Rangers for cash, a move that eventually saw the catcher released by the Rangers on August 15th. On the date of the deadline, August 1st, the Padres received Garrett Cooper and pitching prospect Sean Reynolds from the Miami Marlins for LHP Ryan Weathers. They then traded for LHP Rich Hill and DH Ji Man Choi from the Pittsburgh Pirates. On August 31st, San Diego signed free agent Jurickson Profar to a minor league contract. Profar, was released by the Colorado Rockies on August 27th after signing a free agent contract with them back in March. Profar played with the Padres the previous three seasons. For the Rockies, the outfielder batted just .236, with 25 doubles, two triples, eight home runs, 39 RBIs through 111 games.
A MIRACLE Happened In Baseball Last Night. The San Diego Padres Won An Extra Inning Game https://t.co/vtmVMpnBDz
— Chris Castellani (@Castellani2014) September 28, 2023
The Padres decided to stand pat with their core and hope that the month of July showed they still had the talent to make a run at the postseason.
The month of August started out strong, as they won the first two games of the month, taking the three game series against the Rockies, which started on July 31st. Then after splitting the next two games with the Los Angeles Dodgers, they would lose the next four, two against the Dodgers and a two-game sweep at the hands of the Seattle Mariners. Through the next 20 games, they would finish 7-13, putting all hopes of a playoff run in jeopardy.
To start the month of September, they won five of their first nine games, then went on a roll, taking two of three from the Dodgers, sweeping the Oakland Athletics 3-0, Rockies 3-0, taking two out of three from the St Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants.
On September 28th, they sat just 3.5 games out of the Wild Card Spot, with three teams ahead of them, and a hope and a prayer that those teams would lose all their remaining games, to give San Diego hope, but the good fortunes ran out on Thursday.
After a 17-7 month of September, the fans were treated with great baseball from a team that has the talent and who should have been playing for a World Serie Championship in 2023.
The Padres did one better than the New York Mets, they kept their core together and they played the best baseball of the season when it counted and guys stepped up and played the baseball they were capable of. A lessoned learned going into the 2024 season, that its not how you start but how you finish, but in between, playing above .500 ball is key.
The huge month of September put the Padres at 79-80, just one game under .500 and a chance in the next three games, to win two and finish over .500, a feat that was not thought of after they played their worse baseball in August.
The team underachieved in 2023, but some guys had the best seasons of their career. As of September 28th, Juan Soto has hit a career high 35 home runs, with three games to go he can surpass his hits record, as he sits at 154, and 157 is his high. He also has a career high of 32 doubles and sits at 31 today.
Manny Machado, who has been in the league since 2012, recorded his seventh season with 30 home runs. Fernando Tatis Jr. coming back from a suspension season, hit 25 home runs and stole 29 bases in a career high 138 games played. Xander Bogaerts, in his first season with the Padres, hit 19 homes runs, and batted .283 through 152 games thus far. Gary Sanchez, who join the Padres on May 29th, after he played just three games with the Mets and was designated for assignment on May 19th, hit 19 home runs in 72 games with San Diego.
Ha-Seong Kim added a career high 17 home runs, so far has 59 RBIs, with a chance to get one more which will make it his career high, and stole a career high 36 bases. Future Hall of Famer Nelson Cruz, did not last past July 10th, as he was released after 49 games, and batting just .245, with five doubles, and five home runs. Cruz has had a tremendous career, coming just shy of 500 home runs, as he stands at 464 home runs. NO mention if he will continue his playing days, or finally call it a career after 19 seasons.
As for the pitching staff, no one won more than 14 games, but Blake Snell had a productive season, finishing 14-9, with a 2.25 ERA through 32 starts, while striking out 234 batters in 180 innings pitched. Michael Wacha, in his first season with the Padres, finished 13-4, with a 3.39 ERA through 23 games. Joe Musgrove, who won 10 games in 2022, also won 10 games in 2023, but was sidelined on August 4th with Right shoulder capsule inflammation and never returned to the rotation.
Yu Darvish had a disappointing season at 8-10, and newcomer Seth Lugo finished at 8-7. A bright spot, was close Josh Harder as he saved 32-35 games, sporting a 1.16 ERA, while striking out 84 in 54.1 innings of work.
The San Diego Padres will be back in 2024, and if they can somehow keep the core team together, they should be the team to beat .