The San Diego Padres are currently one game behind the Cincinnati Reds for the second Wild Card spot in the National League.
The two teams are trending in opposite directions.
The Reds are on fire of late, while the Padres are struggling to stay afloat.
San Diego looked like a legitimate title contender just a couple of months ago, but today, the club would do well just to make the postseason.
How can the Padres ensure that they get there?
3. Embrace Difficult Remaining Schedule
The Padres have the toughest remaining schedule in all of baseball.
There are very few easy matchups left.
The team’s remaining slate features six combined series against the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants—arguably the two best teams in baseball.
With L.A. and San Francisco engaged in an epic battle for the NL West right now, there will be no easy nights against either of those teams.
The Padres are going to have to do their very best to at least break even in those series.
If San Diego could find a way to go 9-8 over its 17 remaining games against the Dodgers and Giants, that would be considered a huge win.
2. Iron Out Rotation Woes
San Diego has dealt with many injuries to its rotation this season (we’ll talk more about that later), but at this stage in the season, there’s no time for excuses.
The team’s pitching staff needs to lock in and give the club a chance to win on a nightly basis.
Lamet has been great when healthy, but staying on the field has been a struggle for him this season.
As for Snell, we all know what he’s capable of when he’s throwing the ball well.
— Jim Russell (@JimRussellSD) August 26, 2021
1. Get Healthy And Stay Healthy
In the last couple of months alone, the following pitchers have been on the IL at some point for San Diego (and these are just the notables):
- Lamet (currently rehabbing, should return soon)
- Snell (active)
- Darvish (returning on Thursday)
- Drew Pomeranz (done for season)
- Daniel Hudson (active)
- Chris Paddack (should return in one or two weeks)
We mentioned that the Padres have been dealing with injuries to their rotation, and that list of IL stints shows the extent of the woes.
Lamet should provide a huge boost to the pitching staff when he returns.
Jayce Tingler said that Dinelson Lamet just arrived in the Padres clubhouse and they'll huddle up and decide what the next steps are.
— 97.3 The Fan (@973TheFanSD) August 25, 2021
He had a 3.67 ERA over 11 outings (nine starts) before hitting the IL.
Darvish, of course, is a major key to the team’s success.
The Padres will be very glad to have him back on Thursday.
As for Paddack, he will likely serve as an innings-eater upon his return.
San Diego’s rotation will look something like this once it’s at full strength:
- Musgrove (3.04 ERA)
- Darvish (3.70 ERA)
- Lamet (3.67 ERA)
- Snell (4.58 ERA)
- Weathers/Paddack (5.27 ERA/5.13 ERA)
There’s a lot to work with there.
When that rotation is clicking on all cylinders, it’s one of the best in the league.