The Padres will take on the Dodgers at Petco Park Friday night for a three-game series, hoping to build on some momentum from a winning road trip that left them .500 on the season, at 31-31.
Some good news: Wil Myers is back in the lineup after suffering a stint on the disabled list with left wrist tendonitis. Though he went 0-5 with a walk in his first game back vs. Atlanta, his presence on the roster brings with it a much-appreciated spark, and another option for manager Bud Black.
Some bad news: Starting pitcher Brandon Morrow is out for at least a few more weeks after a setback in rehab. Morrow has been on the disabled list since May 3 with right shoulder inflammation. That means Odrisamer Despaigne will likely remain in the rotation for the time being. Despaigne had a rough few games in May, but since, has given up eight earned runs in the last 26 innings. Not immaculate, but not terrible, either. It does leave the Padres without their long man in the bullpen, which has shown to be detrimental at times as relievers are taxed.
Some unknowns: This club is at .500. It had a chance to really get ahead on its last road trip, but then dropped two out of four in Atlanta. They’re spotty —they make a great comeback win, followed by a groaning loss in a game where they were up five runs. Though we’re seeing guys playing with intensity and pressure — Matt Kemp seems to have found his bat, Yonder Alonso has produced since coming off the disabled list, for example — if the Padres are going to be “in it,” they need to get aggressive. They need to get out in front. If they continue to get a few games above .500 and follow that up with dropping a few games below, they end up right where they are: .500. It’s not an awful place to be — (as the great Randy Jones says, you can talk about being in the race if you’re .500 or above) — but it just screams of a team that is still struggling to find its stride.
I’m an optimist. I don’t count this team out for a second. If they can get ahead before the All-Star Break and really give themselves a good lead, they can come back in the second half and capitalize on that. I want to see them there, rather than playing catch-up. The Padres made it through one of the toughest schedules in the Major Leagues while remaining at .500, which is great. Now that they’ve gotten through that, time to go for the jugular and get ahead.