Baseball Reflections

How the Padres Can Beat the Mets in the Wild Card Round

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Well, first things first, Padres fans – we’ve done it before this year. As I’m sure a lot of Friar Nation can recall, the Padres took 2 out of 3 back in July… IN New York, mind you. For a team who is most well known for their failures and insignificance in recent years – that should be an initial bode of confidence going into the Wild Card round. The Mets are good, but they’re not unbeatable.

The thing that really scares me, though – is the Padres’ inability to win a single series against the Dodgers, of all teams. Sure, the Dodgers are amazing – even I can admit that. But out of 17 matches between the Southern California rivals, the Padres only won 4. Again, I’m not comparing the Mets to the Dodgers, because quite frankly – no one can compare the Dodgers this year (the Yankees, maybe, but that’s a stretch too) – it just goes to serve as an example to the counter of our success against the Mets this year – an inability to beat dominant teams. Not to mention, that’s on top of the elephant in the room which is our squad’s playoff experience.

The truth of a crystal ball be told, should be a close series – I think it’s quite fair to say that much. So, how can the Padres overcome the red-hot Mets who have held their own against a powerhouse like the Braves? Here are a few ways:

Get to the Bullpen

With a starting rotation that features the likes of Scherzer, DeGrom, and Chris Bassit. There are not too many hitters in the league that would look forward to facing those arms. This is why the Padres will need to strike, and strike quickly. This goes hand in hand with one of my criticisms of this squad all year – the Offense. The bats don’t have a sense of urgency – at all. They either explode or lay dormant for most of the game, scoring one or two off of an occasional home run. It’s painful to watch, especially considering the names in our lineup. Machado. Soto. Bell. Hell, even 2022 All-Star Jake Cronenworth. I know I’m no rocket science by saying we need to score – of course, but it’s not just that simple. These guys need to show up, early – if we can get past the starters, it’ll be much smoother sailing. 

Starter No. 3 & the Bullpen

It’s almost a given that Darvish and Musgrove will ball out. Either that or at least give the Pads a quality start. They’re just that good. It’s the other throwers that scare me. They’ve been riddled with inconsistency. I’m talking about Snell, Clevinger, and Manaea. I’d say Snell would be the best bet, but you never know with Clevinger – he’s full of seldom-shown flashes of his former Cy Young-winning self. In addition, the bullpen has been just as – if not more – inconsistent. Luis Garcia can’t seem to find the strike zone at times. Nabil Crismatt has had some rockings. Robert Suarez is still finding himself. Adrian Morejon is young and inexperienced. To put it bluntly, it’s a bit of a mess out there. Sometimes. And others- it’s rock solid! Well, in this upcoming series, the relievers will need to show us their best. Or, it’ll show us their true colors. 

The Stars Need to Play Like… Stars

Sure, this shade is mostly aimed at Juan Soto – who’s, well… underperformed on a two hundred-million dollar level. Maybe the change of scenery got to him. Maybe he lost all of his juice after the Home Run Derby. Who knows? But the buck needs to stop here. The same could’ve maybe been said about Tatis – but that it what it is. Luckily, we’ve been blessed with an MVP-caliber (key word, caliber) year from Manny Machado – but we can’t bank on him every time we’re losing. While he might not be a star, but Bell needs to step up his game – I haven’t felt confident with him at bat since we got him. And Cronenworth, well, he’s technically an All-Star. And we’ve seen flashes of his 2020 self. But not the consistency. If Soto and Machado can lead the gang, backed by Bell, Cronenenworth, and Drury – we should be fine.

As a fan, I’ve noticed that much of the Padres’ success this year has been much hinged on one thing. Role players. We won’t even discuss Tatis, that’s another article. And yet, here we are, on a run with World Series aspirations, and who does it look like it’ll come down to? Role players… Throughout my glazed eyes nights of late-night West Coast baseball, I’ve seen guys like Ha-Seong Kim, Will Myers, and Jorge Alfaro guide us to victory. I’ve even seen Sean Manaea and Blake Snell toss 10+ strikeout gems! 

Our roster is there – it’s solid, for sure. But the performance hasn’t been. Personally, I’m not one to point the blame at Bob Melvin – at Tatis, maybe – but with all of that being said: we have a chance. That’s all we can ask for. And my only, overarching hope for this year, is that we at least give it everything we got. Score some runs. Show some heart on the mound. Step up when needed. 

That’s all I ask for, Friars. If we can do that, we might actually be able to do something we haven’t done since the 90s. Make a World Series? I’m not that delusional. But we can make a splash, that’s for sure… 

One Comment

  1. Pingback: How the Padres Can Beat the Mets in the Wild Card Round – Baseball Reflections - Sports News Center 247

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