This season is not about wins and losses for the San Diego Padres. Obviously, the team and fans want to win every time out. That goes without saying. Supporters can lament that the club is eleven games out of the second wild card slot and that they are at bottom of the NL West. The reality, though, is that this season is about development. Standings do not really matter for the 2017 Padres. Management is going to use these 162 games to see what pieces they have and where potential lies. One could assume the highlights of the season will be the trade deadline or when prospects are auditioned in September.
Padres Sweep of Cubs Gives Fans a 2017 Highlight
The on-field highlight for the 2017 Padres may, in fact, have just occurred. The Padres enter June having swept the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs. While the Cubs are scuffling below .500, they are still the powerhouse Cubs. There is every reason to believe Chicago will play deep into October, but he lowly Padres just beat them in three straight games.
While an early-season sweep at Petco Park is not cause for a parade through the streets of San Diego, the wins did display a number of encouraging signs.
Renfroe Keeps Rolling
In game one, on May 29, Padres rookie rightfielder Hunter Renfroe tagged Kyle Hendricks for a fourth-inning grand slam. Renfroe, a 2013 first round pick, has reached double digits in home runs for the season.
More impressive may be his reputation for gunning down opponents on the base paths. In that same game, Renfroe kept Addison Russell from with a 101 mph throw to the plate. San Diego’s bullpen then held the Cubs hittless over the final five innings, en route to a 5-2 victory.
Lamet and Hedges Proving their Worth
The next game featured the second career appearance for Padres righty starter Dinelson Lamet. The 24-year-old Dominican product earned the win by striking out eight Cubs and allowing two runs over five innings. He has now picked up wins in each of his appearances. It remains to be seen whether Lamet will be a mainstay in the rotation, although he’s shown he has the stuff to step in as necessary.
Catcher Austin Hedges cracked his ninth home run to pace the offense in a 6-2 victory. Hedges has long been a top prospect, but this season he is proving to be a bona fide MLB catcher by thriving in all aspects of that role.
Positive Signs Abound
Last year’s Rule 5 pick up, Luis Perdomo, won the final game of the series by out dueling former Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta. Perdomo, a 24-year-old Dominican righty like Lamet, gave up a lone up to the Cubs over seven innings. Ryan Schimpf hit his fourteenth home run and Brandon Maurer earned his eighth save in a 2-1 win.
As enjoyable as sweeping the Cubs was for Padres fans, the real encouragement is the manner in which it happened. These games featured strong pitching from young arms and key home runs from rookie position players. While the 2017 final standings may end up being unkind to the Padres, for a few games they played like seasoned champions.