The San Diego Padres reached the midpoint of the shortened season with an 18-12 record and riding a seven-game winning streak.
And the way the second half is laid out, the Padres are perfectly placed to make the National League playoffs for the first time since 2006 … and quite possibly as a top-four seed.
The Padres have only six games remaining against teams with winning records — three apiece against the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland A’s.
The other four teams the Padres will be playing in the second half have a combined 47-67 record, a .412 winning percentage.
The second half starts with three home games at Petco Park starting Tuesday night against the Seattle Mariners (11-19), who have won three straight games and four of their past five.
After a day off Monday, the Padres will start the second half with the top of their rotation.
Right-hander Chris Paddack (2-2, 4.26 ERA) will get the ball for the Padres on Tuesday against Seattle left-hander Marco Gonzales (2-2, 3.34 ERA).
The Padres’ winning streak is the franchise’s longest since the 2013 season. San Diego enters the second half having gone 7-0 against Texas while sweeping three straight series for the first time since 2009. In the 52-season history of the Padres, the club has had only six winning streaks of nine or more games.
And they enter the second half with a National League Most Valuable Player in shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. and a Rookie of the Year candidate in second baseman Jake Cronenworth.
Tatis, 21, is hitting .314 with a .396 on-base percentage and a .678 slugging percentage for a 1.073 OPS. He leads the major leagues with 12 homers and 29 RBIs. And on Sunday, he made two of the top-five defensive plays shown on the daily highlights — including a leaping catch far down the line in left that robbed the Astros’ George Springer of a double.
This is how Padres rookie manager Jayce Tingler described Tatis: “He is a No. 1 NFL receiver, a point guard in the NBA, a world-class FIFA soccer player. And maybe an anchor on an Olympic relay team. Fortunately, he decided to play baseball as a kid in the Dominican Republic.”
Cronenworth, 26, has a .347/.410/.627 slash line.
Paddack gets an extra day’s rest for a second straight start and is coming off his second-best outing of the season. He held the Rangers to one run on four hits and two walks with five strikeouts over six innings on Aug. 19 at Petco Park. Over his three previous outings, Paddack had given up 12 runs on 12 hits and three walks in 14 2/3 innings.
Paddack has been hurt by the home run this season. He has given up seven over his last 24 2/3 innings, including a solo shot by Rougned Odor in his last start. Nine of the 15 runs charged to Paddack have come on homers.
Each of Tuesday’s starters has faced their opponent once before. Both were strong outings. Paddack faced Seattle once as a rookie in 2019. He allowed one hit (a first-inning single) and a walk with nine strikeouts over seven scoreless innings. Gonzales held the Padres to one run on four hits with no walks and two strikeouts when last they met.
Gonzales, 28, has a 0.876 WHIP this year. He has allowed 14 runs (11 earned) on 23 hits and three walks with 26 strikeouts in 29 2/3 innings. He has a 36-27 career record with a 4.19 ERA in 90 games (82 starts).
In his latest outing, Gonzales limited the Dodgers to one run on five hits and no walks while striking out nine in seven innings. However, Los Angeles emerged with a 2-1 victory.
“It’s the epitome of pitching,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “It’s not just somebody out there throwing 98 miles an hour with a wicked slider. It is back and forth, using both sides of the plate, top of the strike zone, below the strike zone. You can’t draw it up any better than what he did today.
“I just love that demeanor he has when he takes the mound — very, very competitive. He does have that bulldog in him and you can see it come out. He really wanted that ballgame today and really wanted to show it against a very good team. He shut them down.”
Gonzales said, according to the Seattle Times, “You can put any lineup out there and I’m gonna stick with my Plan A and pitch to my strengths. It took me a long time to learn in this league to be on the attack, be aggressive, and that puts guys on their heels.”
–Field Level Media