An odd revelation came to me yesterday. The Padres are beginning to resemble the teams that won the NL West in '06 and '07 and the team that came within 1 inning of the Wild Card last year. Those teams similar offensive woes but won games behind solid starting pitching, bullpen work and defense. How many times in the past three years have we seen the Padres win 2-1 games? Up until now, those wins have eluded this team.
Now while the Cubs series didn't go the way the Padres wanted, what sticks out to me is that the games were close (in fact, in the two losses the Padres had leads each time). It was late inning offensive outbursts that killed the Padres (that will happen facing a lineup like the Cubs). Last night against the Mets, it appeared the the old recipe for success in Petco was dusted off. MLB certainly won't be using last nights game tape to sell baseball overseas, but solid pitching by surprising waiver wire pick-up Josh Banks (who know holds a Padres record for longest scoreless inning streak by a Padre pitcher to begin their career), and a hit by pitch were enough to win last night. Pretty? Not likely. Effective? Absolutely.
There are still major holes, major negatives with this team. 2-22 with RISP over two games is not helpful. Iguchi is now out for 4 weeks and left field is a giant hole right now. BUT, the Padres are 8 GB of first, the division is playing poorly, providing the Padres with the best record in the division in May (13-16...ugh). All is not lost. Things will also only get better as Jake Peavy is due back soon, Chris Young will be back providing a rotation that looks like this:
And of course, we are mere days away (one can only assume) of Chase Headley's call up. The downside to waiting this long is the enormous pressure Headley will be under when he gets here. The Padres have shown patience before with rookies if they struggle early (see: Kouzmanoff) but the pressure from the fans on Headley will be unlike any rookie has faced in San Diego in a long time. So, let this serve as a PSA of sorts: If Headley starts 2-25 or something similar, give the guy a break and let him ease in.
In other news, the Padres picked 1B Allan Dykstra from Wake Forest in the first round yesterday. I like college baseball but no little to nothing about MLB drafts and strategy's around it. But, www.ducksnorts.com/blog does, so check them out later this weekend for a full recap.
Can the Padres win the NL West? I know believe that answer is yes. But first things first, Johan Santana tonight against Randy Wolf.