The first half of the 2015 Padres season is finally over, and it wasn’t what we in San Diego had hoped for after an exciting offseason. The Padres are actually nine games past the halfway mark but with the All-Star break upon us, here’s my take on how the team has performed.
Pitching – (C-) The lack of consistency has been perhaps the Padres biggest hitch this season. As Bud Black used to remind us, win streaks are primarily dependent on the next day’s pitcher, and he’s right. The Padres longest win-streak so far this season stands at four games.
Prized offseason signee James Shields has made his career off consistency and was added to become the ace of an already strong starting rotation, but neither he nor the rest of the staff have lived up to expectations. He’s been good at times but not great, Tyson Ross seems to have found his groove as of late but has struggled with control all season (he leads all of MLB in walks), and Andrew Cashner, Ian Kennedy, and Odrisamer Despaigne have been about as consistent as a coin flip. You know you’re going to get one or the other every time, heads or tails, good or (really) bad; and it’s not working.
Like the starting rotation, the bullpen was thought to be an asset for the Padres. The unit has “improved” as the season’s progressed but a lot of games have been lost late, particularly at the start of the season. The Padres had the best bullpen in the NL last year. Now, the group is 11th.
Offense – (D) The Padres were near the top of the NL in runs scored for most of the first half but have tailed off lately. The team’s now seventh in the NL, which isn’t terrible (and at least better than last year’s historically inept offense), but its .238 batting average is second to last. The Padres have also been shutout 13 times.
Individually, it seems every player is under-performing, save for Yonder Alonso. Matt Kemp’s been no-where close to performing like he did with the Dodgers. Justin Upton has been solid but has seen his batting average dip nearly 100 points since the start of June, and he’s hit just two home runs since then, after belting 12 in the first two months. Derek Norris was off to a fantastic start, hitting 17 doubles and driving in 32 runs the first two months, but has also plummeted since June. He’s batting .163 since then and has just three doubles, and only 13 RBI. He’s playing way too much.
Will Middlebrooks, once a top prospect with the Red Sox, hasn’t found that promising form with his new team. Yangervis Solarte is a nice utility player, not a starter. Jedd Gyorko was sent to the minors (!) and Alexi Amarista continues to remind us all why he is not an every day short stop. This team lost a lot of life after Wil Myers reinjured his right wrist. He was a catalyst at the top of the order. Now Pat Murphy’s turned to picking names out of a hat.
Defense – (D) To no one’s surprise, the defense has been dismal this season. The outfield was expected to be bad and it’s lived up to the hype. Both corner outfield spots are manned by below average defenders, the team lacks a true shortstop, and catcher Derek Norris is a sub-par pitch framer (props for his league-leading 29 runners caught stealing, though).
When Myers was healthy, he was playing out of position and not nearly as efficient as Will Venable or Melvin Upton Jr in centerfield. Injuries, coupled with most of the infield struggling at the plate, forced the Padres to shuffle just about everybody out of their normal positions at some point. It’s a big reason why the pitching has struggled.
Future – (F) The July 31st trade deadline is looming and the Padres will likely be active. Justin Upton is all but gone, barring some miracle Padres brass thinks they can resign him. He could fetch a few prospects for San Diego’s now depleted far system but I’d be surprised if the Padres were able to get a major leaguer who can actually contribute. Pat Murphy’s interim status will remain for the rest of the season and with the way things have gone since he took over (9-15), I don’t see how the Padres, especially with pieces likely coming and going, turn this thing around. San Diego is currently 10 games behind in the NL West and seven-and-a-half games back for the second Wild Card. Firing Bud Black killed this team and any chance it had at the postseason.
–Andrew Burer (TWITTER: @andrewburer)
How would you grade the Padres first half of the season? Let us know in the comments below.