Can We Believe It?

Or Will Padres Turn Out To Be A Mirage?

Chris Ello
May 10, 2019 - 5:54 am

A mirage is defined as an optical illusion or phenomenon. The Mirage is a hotel/casino in Las Vegas. When it comes to the 2019 Padres, would you go to one place to bet on the other?

That is today's question before the court. Broken down to its core, it simply is this: Are the Padres for real? The answer, I believe, is yes...or no.

Following a weekend series, which snow permitting starts today in Denver against the Colorado Rockies, the Pads will have played 41 games -- or just about one-quarter of their current season. It is surely enough of a sample to have an opinion on how this whole story is going to turn out come October. Or is it? Like, when we all arrive at the end of this baseball season, will the Padres be there, too? Or.....well, are they are a mirage?

First things first. If you went to The Mirage and bet the "over" on the Padres' victory total for this 2019 season, you were betting that San Diego would finish with more than 78.5 wins this season. I won't say to go ahead and cash that ticket now, but I would say to at the very least hide it in a place for safe-keeping. At 21-17 currently, the Padres are easily on pace to top Vegas' mark (right now they would finish up with about 85-86 wins).

But that's not guaranteed, and even if it were, the question then becomes this: will the Padres have enough wins to keep playing once the regular season is over and it's playoff time? That's a little tougher question to digest.

Of the Padres' 21 wins this season, 14 have come by one or two runs (they are already 9-6 in games decided by one run). The bad news is that if you play close game after close game, chances are possible (probable?) that you will start to suffer a run of heartbreaking losses. In essence, by winning such close games, you're not giving yourself much room for error. The good news, however, is that there is only one other team in baseball with 14 wins of one or two runs so far this season -- and that team is the Los Angeles Dodgers. And we know they're good. So, perhaps too, are the Padres.

(The 9-6 record in one-run games, by the way, ties them with three other teams for most one-run victories. And amazingly, all three teams are in their division: the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, and Giants).

Nevertheless, their overall mark of 21 wins is still just 10th-best in all of baseball. And their 21-17 mark is currently seventh-best in the National League, which at this exact moment would leave them on the outside looking in come playoff time. Another indicator of a team's success is run differential, where the Padres are at plus-one. That places them eighth in the N.L., behind teams such as the last-place Reds in the Central Division.

So again we're left to ponder whether or not we really can believe in this team. Is it going to get by without a true leadoff hitter? Without a single .300 hitter? Without a whole bunch of hitting in general? And what of the young pitching staff? If ever there was a mirage, could the Padres inexperience on the mound be just that? Or not? After all, San Diego currently ranks second in baseball in starter's ERA. And that's pretty damn impressive, considering where everybody thought they would be.

But, then again, will innings limits and pitch counts eventually take away the likes of Chris Paddack and Nick Margevicius? Will continued short outings by the starters eventually erode the bullpen?

Ultimately, that's the fascinating thing about these 2019 Padres. We really don't know the answers to any of these questions, which is a whole lot better than it used to be around here. It used to be that a quarter of the way through a season, we knew the Padres were not a mirage. They were simply what they were -- a pretty bad baseball team.

Now, if everything breaks just right, they could wind up being pretty bad-ass. Or not.