The Accidental Tank: I ranted about this in my NL West season preview, but let me reiterate that Padres GM A.J. Preller is an idiot in my book. He got hired and immediately went ahead and traded the entire Padres farm system during the 2014/15 offseason for Craig Kimbrel, Matt Kemp, Derek Norris, Wil Myers, and Justin Upton. He even signed James Shields for the rotation. They went for it in 2015. And…they were mediocre. It was a complete failure. And after the season he traded Kimbrel to re-stock the farm system and let Justin Upton walk in free agency. But he didn’t do anything to improve the club. Now the Padres are among the worst teams in the league, and they seemingly have no clear direction from the top. We hear all about these teams that are intentionally “tanking” like the Braves, Reds and Phillies. But A.J. Preller doesn’t seem to get an ounce of criticism for accidentally tanking in 2016.
Padres Lately: The Padres have a crummy record at 11-17. The Padres are 24th in runs scored, 29th in OPS, and 28th in home runs. The “blame the ballpark” excuse can only be used for so long, especially considering the Padres already moved the fences in at Petco a couple years ago. It didn’t help much. The Padres were supposed to be built on rock solid pitching. But their team ERA is 4.23 and ranks at 19th in the league.
Now despite all those negative stats on the season, they just finished winning consecutive series against the Dodgers and the Rockies. Those series wins say more about the struggling Dodgers and inconsistent Rockies than they do about the quality of the Padres team. That being said, the Padres pitching staff has performed much better lately.
Game 1: Jacob deGrom vs. Colin Rea
Rea is a 25 year old righty pitcher with 11 career starts. He tossed a quality start and got the win against LA last week, but overall this year he’s been mediocre with a 4.61 ERA in 5 starts.
Last June, Jacob deGrom pitched 8 scoreless 2 hit innings with 8 K against the Padres at Petco. He was decent last time out against the Giants giving up zero earned runs over 6 innings, but he did let up 4 walks.
Game 2: Noah Syndergaard vs. Drew Pomeranz
Drew Pomeranz was once a highly touted prospect, but has never lived up to the hype. He spent the last two seasons in Oakland, so the Mets have limited experience against him. He is off to a nice start to the season with a 2-3 record and a stellar 2.48 ERA. He took a hard luck loss in LA last time out going 7 innings and giving up just one run. He also struck out 10 Pirates in April over 6.2 scoreless innings. He’s a lefty, so we shall see which of our lefty sluggers Terry decides to rest.
Thor faced the Padres twice during his rookie season going 1-1. He got rocked at Petco. Despite his 10 Ks in that game he gave up 7 runs and 10 hits over 4 innings. But in New York, he went 8 scoreless 3 hit innings and struck out 9 Padres.
I’m Watching You: Hopefully between starts the Mets have worked with Syndergaard on holding runners on base. The Reds and the Giants ran all over Thor in his last two starts. The Padres are a team that will run and use speed as a weapon. That being said, Thor’s issue has less to do with the teams he’s been facing and more to do with his inability to hold people on base. He should probably just strike everyone out so this won’t continue to be a problem.
Game 3: Bartolo Colon vs. James Shields
Bartolo had his shortest and most horrendous outing of 2015 at Citi Field against the Padres. He got yanked after 2.1 innings, 10 hits, and 6 runs. That being said, he’s been the Mets most consistent pitcher so far this season. He’s matching the early season success he had last year. It doesn’t matter much because the game is in San Diego, but Bartolo needs to adopt “I’m Too Sexy” as his warmup song. It’s possible he already has, but if not he needs to do it immediately.
James Shields may be 1-4 so far this season, but his 3.23 ERA is great. He’s had 5 quality starts and he’s gone 6+ innings in all 6 starts. He went 1-1 against the Mets in 2015, but he went 7 innings and gave up 3 or fewer runs both times. The current Mets have historically had very little success against James Shields. Curtis Granderson has by far the most experience against Shields. He’s 8 for 64 with 2 home runs. Asdrubal Cabrera is 6 for 24 with a home run and Duda is 2 for 6 with a home run. Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, David Wright, and Neil Walker are a combined 1 for 19 against Shields.
Game 4: Matt Harvey vs. Andrew Cashner
Cashner is 2-2 with an ugly 4.85 ERA this season. He tossed a quality start against the Rockies last time out. Lucas Duda is 2 for 8 against him, Grandy is 2 for 9 with a home run, Wright is 1 for 7 with a home run.
Matt Harvey did not face the Padres in 2015. At this point we’re nearing broken record status, but maybe this will be the week where he starts to turn his season around.
Things To Look For:
Hot Padres: Matt Kemp is batting .299 with 8 home runs. Maybe he’s rediscovering some of the magic from his 39 home run 2011 campaign? It’s more likely he’s having one good month. Wil Myers is hitting .304 with 5 home runs. I wouldn’t say Melvin Upton (The Lesser Upton) is “hot”. But he’s hitting .244, and he’s hit a few doubles and a couple dingers. He’s certainly been better than the piece of garbage we all got used to over the past few years.
Early Spring Shopping List: So after a month of baseball, I’m already preparing my in season Mets roster shopping list. I definitely think this roster could use another big time reliever, a right handed hitting bench bat that plays 1B/OF and a major league catcher. You may notice I didn’t specify major league starting catcher or backup. The Mets really need Travis d’Arnaud to come back and stay healthy. I want him to play on the Mets, and I want him to be the impact player that we’ve all seen. And even if we wanted to trade him and go in a different direction, right now his trade value is at an all time low. It’s hard to imagine the Mets pursuing a starting caliber catcher like Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Ruiz, or even the Padres Derek Norris mid-season. But if d’Arnaud is actually out forever and Kevin Plawecki continues to do nothing at the plate, the thought needs to be entertained.
Speaking of trades, so far this season Jonathan Papelbon has sucked for the Nats and the Yankees have sucked. If the Yankees keep stinking, how terrible is it going to be when they flip the Mets off and ship Aroldis Chapman to the Nationals at the deadline? Pretty pretty pretttty terrible.
Young and Hungry, Old and Tired: I was thinking this morning how it’s funny that the young guns Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz are absolutely dealing to start the season and the slightly more experienced Jacob deGrom/Matt Harvey have battled injuries, diminished velocity and some command issues. I’m not sure what to conclude from that other than the youngest guys have a lot to prove and seemingly have come out of the gate super hungry. Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey have a little more mileage, they blasted to all time high inning levels last season, and also they have the experience of surviving a full season. So maybe they are both starting slow due to the wear and tear combined with a conscious effort to conserve their energy for the long haul. With Harvey, it’s clearly more about the wear and tear. But deGrom is really smart, and I’m sure we will see him kick it into a higher gear as we move later in the season. I hope all four of them are performing at the highest level down the stretch when it matters most.
Tonight: The Nationals kickoff a series against the Cubs tonight. Hopefully the Cubs can remind the Nationals that they play in the NL Least and send them into a tailspin. Tonight, we kick off this 4 game set and an 11 game road trip. I don’t envy the Mets and their inevitable jet lag. For Christ’s sake I commute 30 minutes, and I battle subway lag daily. But I’m sure they’ll all just grab coffee/amphetamines and get this series started on the right foot.