Manager: Pat Murphy (1st season)
Last 10 games: 7-3
Who to watch: RF Matt Kemp (.267/.314/.423 with 15 HR, 76 RBIs), LF Justin Upton (.258/.344/.448 with 20 HR, 67 RBIs), 3B Yangervis Solarte (.269/.325/.425 with 10 HR, 49 RBIs), RHP James Shields (9-5, 3.74 ERA), RHP Craig Kimbrel (35 saves, 2.94 ERA)
Season series vs. Nationals: 1-3
Aug. 25: RHP James Shields vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg, 7:05 p.m., MASN
Aug. 22: RHP Tyson Ross vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez, 7:05 p.m., MASN
Aug. 23: RHP Andrew Cashner vs. RHP Joe Ross, 7:05 p.m., MASN
Inside the Padres:
After all the offseason moves to bring in the star power of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Meyers and Derek Norris, the Padres are still just a mediocre team in good division. San Diego was supposed to, at the very least, contend with the Dodgers and defending world champion Giants in the National League West, if not overtake them. They haven't come close to either, and they find themselves 6 1/2 games back in the division and 11 games back in the NL wild card race.
The Padres' solution to their midseason underachievement was to fire former NL Manager of the Year Bud Black on June 15 after a 32-33 record and six-game deficit in the West to start the season. It seems that ownership thought it was the manager who wasn't getting the most out of the talent he had. But bench coach Dave Roberts stepped in for one game, a 9-1 home loss to the Athletics, and Pat Murphy was appointed interim manager on June 16.
Murphy hasn't done much better in his time managing the Pads, sitting at an even 29-29 since taking the reigns. And at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the Padres were thought to make another big splash to at least make some progress down the stretch. The only move was trading center fielder Abraham Almonte for left-hander Marc Rzepczynski. Since the trade deadline, the Padres are 11-10, which is sixth-best in the NL and, although not great, still better than some teams who did make moves, such as the Nationals (8-14).
So the Friars have to rely on the talent they've acquired and kept. They're getting the most production out of their two big acquisitions from last December, Kemp and Upton. Kemp is slashing .267/.314/.423 with 15 home runs and 76 RBIs, while All-Star Upton is hitting for a .258/.344/.448 slash line with 20 homers and 67 RBIs. Third baseman Yangervis Solarte is batting .269/.325/.425 while adding 10 longballs and 49 RBIs in his first full season in San Diego. Catcher Norris has added 13 homers and 54 RBIs, but is listed as day-to-day after taking a fastball off his left wrist on Saturday, the X-rays coming back negative.
James Shields is the only Padres starter in this series that didn't pitch against the Nats back in San Diego. The right-hander is 9-5 with a 3.74 ERA on the season and 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA in his seven starts since the All-Star break, but the Padres are 2-5 in those starts. Shields has pitched more than seven innings only once this season, but is 3-1 when he does complete seven. He is 4-3 with a 4.75 ERA on the road this season and 0-0 with a 5.11 ERA in two career starts against the Nationals. He has never pitched at Nats Park, but did have one start at RFK Stadium in 2006 when he was with Tampa Bay.
Unfortunately, we won't get a Ross brothers showdown this time around, as Joe Ross' older brother Tyson Ross will start Wednesday night's game against Gio Gonzalez, missing pitching against his brother by a day. The Padres right-hander is 8-9 with a 3.32 ERA this season. He is also 2-2 in his seven starts since the break, with a 3.27 ERA, but contrasting to Shields, the Padres are 5-2 in those starts. Ross has faired better on the road - 5-3 and a 2.71 ERA - than at home - 3-6 with a 4.13 ERA. He is 1-1 with a 4.41 ERA in five appearances (two starts) against the Nats. Back in May, Ross pitched five innings and gave up two runs on five hits and three walks with six strikeouts in a win over Washington.
Andrew Cashner gets the ball to close out the series and has struggled this season with a 5-12 record and 4.03 ERA. He started his 2015 campaign 1-7, with the last loss coming against the Nationals. He threw six innings, giving up nine hits, four runs (three earned), two walks and six strikeouts. The righty has improved in the second half, going, you guessed it, 2-2 in his six starts since the break with a 3.79 ERA and the Padres going 4-2. Cashner is 0-2 with a 6.17 ERA in two starts over five appearances at Nats Park.
The Padres have won their last four series to set themselves up to close out the season strong. But that was not the goal for this year. So whether they make big roster moves or not and with whomever manages the team, the Padres can't seem to win enough to compete. Bring on the offseason.
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