The latest from America’s Finest City, where a midseason malaise will keep the long-suffering Padres out of postseason play for the 13th consecutive season . . .
- Wunderkind Fernando Tatis Jr., who’s hit the shelf with a serious injury for the third time in the last calendar year, has no plans to change his hyper-aggressive manner on the field, writes MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell. “No, absolutely not,” Tatis responded when posed with the question. “If it’s part of it, it’s part of it. But I’m not going to change my game at all.” The team, though, won’t sit by in deference: “Nobody’s looking to change him much or at all,” Padres manager Andy Green noted. “But there will be moments in time where he learns, through time, that he doesn’t need to take a chance. That’s not necessarily saying he’s going to play soft or step off the gas pedal. He’ll play very similar to the way he always has. That’s the way we want him to play. He will continue to learn and grow the more he plays.” A public position slightly hedged typically means a great deal more beneath the surface, so it’s almost certain the club’ll place caution at the center of its future messages to the young star. Tatis’ .317/.379/.590 line was slightly inflated by an obviously unsustainable .410 BABIP this season, with Statcast pegging the rookie as the NL’s luckiest hitter in ’19, but it was nonetheless a banner debut for ESPN’s #1 overall prospect entering the season.
- Fellow rookie Chris Paddack, whose relentless first-half assault on National League hitters has been thwarted by further exposure and the absence of a quality third offering, isn’t on a concrete innings limit, as Cassavell explores in a separate piece. A 2016 Tommy John Surgery limited the righty to just 90 IP in 2018, but the club has no plans to clot his late-season leak: “That’s not where my head is,” manager Andy Green said. “Get him back on the bump, attack again, overcome. Obviously if there’s something going on, that would change my mind quickly. But I think health-wise, he feels good.” After a solid first-half showing, in which the 23-year-old’s typically dominant K/BB was marred only by a 1.31 HR/9 mark, Paddack has been drilled in 35 post-all-star-break innings, allowing nine homers and as many doubles en route to a .507 slugging percentage against and 5.56 FIP. The former eighth rounder out of a Texas high school is author to perhaps the most impressive minor-league numbers since the days of Tim Lincecum, but may find his relentless zone-pounding in need of curation.
- Catcher Francisco Mejia, who appears now to have wrestled full-time duties away from incumbent Austin Hedges, looks to be finding his stride in the season’s second half. The 23-year-old’s 142 wRC+, on the back of a much-improved 7.5% BB rate, ranks fifth among MLB catchers over that span. The once-undiscerning backstop has also sliced his strikeout rate nearly 10% from last season’s 30.6% mark, and is now chasing pitches at a far-more-respectable rate. Mejia will still need to improve his much-maligned (in prospect circles) defense to fulfill his lofty upside, but the Friars may well have found their backstop of the future.