Padres Week 16 Recap: Bats go silent while pitchers do all they can
The Padres lost three of four games against the Dodgers to head into the All-Star break, as the starting pitchers were great and the offense struggled all series.
Jul 13, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Diego Padres right fielder Chris Denorfia (13) reacts to getting picked off of 1st base to end the 8th inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.
Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY Sports
By Kyle Soppe
Padres Week 16 Recap
Thursday @ Dodgers: 1-2 Loss
Friday @ Dodgers: 6-3 Win
Saturday @ Dodgers: 0-1 Loss
Sunday @ Dodgers: 0-1 Loss
Los Angeles Series Recap
Any series against a team with a star-studded pitching staff is going to be a grind, especially when your offense is among the most anemic in all of baseball. Well, things played out pretty much how you would have guessed, as the Dodgers dominated the final series of the season's first half.
For as much press Los Angeles' rotation gets, and deservedly so, the Padres starters more than held their own in this four game set. Odrisamer Despaigne, Jesse Hahn, Ian Kennedy, and Tyson Ross combined to hold an explosive Dodgers offense to just six runs (2.00 ERA) on 19 hits (0.70 WHIP), production that will win most series'. Despaigne (making his major league debut at 27 years of age) has now worked four consecutive quality starts against divisional opponents while Hahn (24) has surrendered only six earned runs in his last 37 innings of work, statistics that indicate maturity well beyond their years. Kennedy and Ross have been solid all season long, so when you add staff ace Andrew Cashner into the mix, you've got a staff filled with potential.
That potential, however, is just that: potential. The Padres will not be able to compete at a playoff level until their offense proves the ability to occasionally push runs across the board. Of the eight runs and 21 hits that they recorded in this series, six runs and nine hits came in one game. That leaves next to no room for error for the pitchers, an environment that isn't conducive to maximizing performance.
There is no shame in getting shutdown by Clayton Kershaw, but it wasn't just the Dodgers ace that completely dominated the Padres hitters. Paul Maholm, the same Paul Maholm who owns a 4.39 ERA over his nine seasons and hadn't started a game since he gave up 10 runs to the Marlins nearly two months ago, spun six shutout innings while giving up just two hits. He is an average MLB pitcher at best, but he looked comfortable in retiring the first 10 hitters he faced and was never really threatened (San Diego went down in order six times in his Saturday start). In the Dodgers three victories in this series, their starters gave up just one hit per nine outs recorded.
Huston Street was named as an All-Star replacement on Sunday night, but not before the bullpen struggled to match the starter's productivity. The relievers struck out eight in 5.2 innings of work, but continually gave up hard contact on their way to a 4.77 ERA and 2.12 WHIP. Again, given the struggles of the offense, San Diego is going to have to be perfect elsewhere to win a ballgame, and that simply isn't realistic. The post-steroid era has placed greater importance on pitching over the past handful of years, so there is reason to believe that this San Diego can compete in the near future, but the current offensive roster construction is going to slow any and all growth.
Based on the productivity of the pitchers, I can't give them a failing grade. One win against the Dodgers and four competitive games is about the best we could have hoped for, but that doesn't make three losses with a total of 12 hits any easier to swallow.
First Half Grade: C-
I evaluate three major areas (starters, relievers, and hitters) and the Padres are doing well in two of them, which is enough for a passing grade. Unfortunately, their flaw is a major one and makes every single game a battle. They've had their moments, but I expected this to be a .500 team, so the fact that they are 13 below is disappointing. I'd love to blame injuries, and while a few players have missed extended time, no player has consistently produced and no player is even showing positive signs. Could the Padres make a move or two at the deadline to bolster their offense down the road? Sure, but for 2014, this offense is going to make anything more than 70 wins a struggle.
San Diego will open the second half of the season by hosting the Mets for a weekend series and then traveling to Chicago to face the Cubbies. Neither one of those teams is any good, giving San Diego a reasonable chance to hang onto their third place standing in the NL West.