The San Diego Padres are 78-78, out of the race for the postseason.
They used to hold the second Wild Card and kept it for weeks, but their own struggles coupled with the St. Louis Cardinals’ winning streak left them on the outside looking in.
Several things went wrong, or not as initially planned.
How can the Padres return to contention?
First, they will need to answer these questions.
3. Can They Get Their Rotation Healthy And Effective?
The Padres rotation was never at full strength if we consider the fact that Mike Clevinger didn’t even pitch this year while recovering from Tommy John surgery, and Adrian Morejon injured his elbow once his season started and also needed the procedure.
But even those who have been healthy have been surprisingly ineffective.
Blake Snell was lousy for months, and just when he appeared to settle in, he injured his adductor.
His season ERA is a mediocre (for his standards) 4.20.
Chris Paddack has also visited the injured list, and when he has been on the mound, he hasn’t shown the talent that made him a Rookie of the Year candidate in 2019.
This campaign, Paddack has struggled to the tune of a 5.07 ERA in 108.1 frames.
Dinelson Lamet has never looked fully healthy since suffering elbow woes last season and may need surgery.
Yu Darvish has alternated good starts with very bad ones since the crackdown of foreign substances on the ball, and his season ERA is 4.21.
Only Joe Musgrove (3.22 ERA, 27.3 strikeout rate) has been good and consistent, and this needs to change next year if the Padres are going to compete.
Clevinger will be back next year, so that’s a good start.
Even though this team has been "collapsing", this is still one of the most funnest seasons the Padres have had in the last 10 years. 2022 has been the target for awhile . A rotation that includes Clevinger will help make the difference.
— Brian G (@Califriar) August 29, 2021
2. Can They Get Fernando Tatis Jr. Some Help?
Fernando Tatis Jr. is an MVP candidate, with a .284/.370/.617 line, 41 home runs, and 25 stolen bases.
The Padres’ offense is 14th in runs scored per game, with 4.5, 21st in slugging percentage, with .402, and 15th in OPS, with .724.
In other words, the unit is average, at best, and it’s actually below-average in some stat categories.
For example, the Padres are just 23rd in home runs hit, with 175.
No contender should have such an underwhelming offense, and that’s something that they will need to address during the offseason.
Final: Braves 4, Padres 0
The Padres won a game started by Reiss Knehr. Then they lost a game started by Reiss Knehr. Fernando Tatis Jr. homered in the first game and had two hits in the second. The rest of the Padres offense went 2-for-32 today.
— AJ Cassavell (@AJCassavell) September 25, 2021
1. Can They Improve In-House Talent?
The Los Angeles Dodgers are the kings of scouting and player development in the National League West and perhaps MLB.
The San Francisco Giants joined that tier this year, getting the best of veterans such as Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey, and Evan Longoria; and unheralded players such as LaMonte Wade Jr., Darin Ruf, and Brandon Belt.
Why can’t the Padres take the next step in that regard, too?
Trent Grisham appeared to be a bright prospect, but has stalled this season (.240/.327/.412 line).
Wil Myers (.256/.336/.435, 17 homers, eight steals) definitely hasn’t produced like he did last year.
It appears that the Padres have something missing in the organization, a person or group capable of consistently working their magic, detecting mechanical flaws, and providing these struggling players with the necessary resources to succeed.
They do have an active front office and a will to win, so expect them to be active on the player development front.