It’s hard to tell which team is the real San Diego Padres: The sound-hitting squad that had won six in a row last week and was closing in on third place, or the offense-challenged crew that limped out of Los Angeles on Wednesday riding a seven-game losing streak.
Unfortunately for the Padres, the answer is probably: both. When their young players are swinging the bats and the starting pitching is solid, they look like a competitive club. When they keep stranding baserunners and the pitching is only middling, they look like the NL West’s last-place team they are today.
The Padres lost to the Dodgers 4-2 Wednesday, leading into a day off before opening a homestand Friday against Colorado. Starting pitcher Wade LeBlanc knocked in one the Padres’ two runs Wednesday, meaning the eight position starters accounted for one run — a common theme as the Padres were swept in consecutive series in L.A. and Phoenix.
The Padres appear to miss their most dynamic player, outfielder Cameron Maybin, who is nursing a sore wrist but hopes to be back in the lineup Friday. They also appear to miss relief pitcher Mike Adams, who was sent to Texas on the July 31 trade deadline.Since then the bullpen — the Padres’ strength in the first half of the season — has appeared out of sync.
To address that, the Padres on Wednesday called up minor league relief ace Brad Brach from Triple-A Tucson. He was the Padres’ minor league pitcher of the year in 2010, and had 34 saves in 37 opportunities this season. He made his major league debut Wednesday, throwing a scoreless inning at Dodger Stadium.
As MLB teams prepare to expand their rosters for September (they can carry up to 40 players the rest of the season), the Padres made a curious move Wednesday, claiming outfielder Jeremy Hermida off waivers from Cincinnati. To clear roster space, the team designated catcher Kyle Phillips for assignment.
It’s a curious move because the 27-year-old Hermida, a .259 career hitter with an unfortunate history of injuries, joins what is already a crowded stable of young .260-hitting outfielders trying to establish themselves in the majors: Kyle Blanks, Will Venable, Maybin, Blake Tekotte, Aaron Cunningham.
The key may be General Manager Jed Hoyer’s Red Sox connections; Hermida — who hit a grand slam in his first major league at-bat for the arlins — played in the Bosox system when Hoyer was the team’s assistant GM, and he continues to mine that vein.