When the Padres signed erstwhile Angels ace Garrett Richards to a two-year, $15.5MM deal in December, expectations were that Richards would return in time to lead their young staff in 2020–and, if everything broke right in his recovery from Tommy John surgery, that Richards might squeeze in a few September frames. Apparently, that vision is coming into focus now, as the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee reports that Richards is expected to take the ball in his club’s matchup with the Brewers on Monday (link). “Getting him healthy on the mound, competing at the big-league level is going to set him up for success next year,” Padres manager Andy Green told Acee. “We look at it like get him on the mound, make sure he knows going into the offseason he’s ready to go and he doesn’t have a question in the back of his mind — that he’s stared down a few major league lineups and he’s been back on the big stage and he’s ready to go.”
- Padres rookie Chris Paddack will make at least one more start this season, AJ Cassavell of MLB.com tweets. Shutting Paddack down for the year looked like a possibility after he threw six scoreless innings against the Cubs on Wednesday. The rookie standout, 23, has now racked up 135 2/3 innings this season, easily surpassing the previous professional high of 90 he set in 2018 as a minor leaguer.
- Like Dahl, Padres righty Chris Paddack’s season could also be done, as AJ Cassavell of MLB.com observes. Paddack’s not injured, but the Padres have been monitoring the former Tommy John patient’s workload in his rookie campaign. The prized 23-year-old fired six shutout frames against the Cubs on Wednesday, raising his 2019 innings total to 135 2/3 – easily the most he has thrown in a professional season. Whether or not Paddack takes the mound again this year, this season’s sure to go in the books as a resounding success for him. Paddack has logged a 3.38 ERA/3.99 FIP with tremendous strikeout and walk rates (9.55 K/9 , 1.99 BB/9) in his first MLB action.
Having scored a 10-year, $300MM contract, Manny Machado was easily the Padres’ biggest free-agent signing last winter. Long before that addition, though, the Padres made headlines by awarding right-hander Garrett Richards a two-year, $15.5MM guarantee.
The Padres handed Richards his deal knowing they likely wouldn’t get much from the former Angel this season after he underwent Tommy John surgery in July 2018. Indeed, with little time left this year, Richards hasn’t yet made his Padres debut. It appears to be on the way, however. Richards will throw a bullpen session Saturday, and if he gets through that unscathed, he’ll likely take the hill during San Diego’s series in Milwaukee next week, Dennis Lin of The Athletic reports.
At 67-77, the Padres have sewn up their 13th consecutive season without a playoff berth. But if they’re going to make a long-awaited return to contention a year from now, a healthy Richards could be a key factor. The problem is that good health has been hard to come by for Richards, whom arm injuries have consistently dogged over the past few seasons. The 31-year-old hasn’t logged a full season since 2015, and has only amassed 138 2/3 innings dating back to the 2016 campaign. When he has been able to take the ball, though, Richards has served as a more-than-respectable big league starter, evidenced by his 3.54 ERA/3.62 FIP with 7.8 K/9, 3.24 BB/9 and a 52.5 percent groundball rate across 744 2/3 innings.
Going forward, the Padres could certainly use the type of production that Richards has typically offered. On paper, he’d fit nicely into a group that has gotten solid numbers this year from Chris Paddack, Joey Lucchesi, Eric Lauer and Dinelson Lamet. San Diego hasn’t found a quality option to fill out its starting staff, however, as Cal Quantrill, Matt Strahm and Nick Margevicius have each failed to truly seize hold of a rotation spot. If the team has its way, Richards won’t encounter that type of difficulty when he’s finally ready to join its staff – a unit that could also include elite prospect MacKenzie Gore in the near future.
- Padres manager Andy Green isn’t willing to guarantee that banged up outfielder Hunter Renfroe will play again this season, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune relays. For now, Renfroe’s going to rest on account of right elbow and ankle problems. “Hunter has battled through a lot this second half,” said Green, who added, “There have been a number of days he was unavailable and we’ve managed not to talk about it.” We covered Renfroe’s significant second-half struggles earlier Tuesday, though it now seems possible health problems have been a major cause for his summer slump.
Just a couple months ago, Padres outfielder Hunter Renfroe looked like a legitimate breakout player. As a result, the defensively adept slugger drew plenty of trade interest leading up to the deadline, though the Padres understandably elected against parting with him. This season has since become about looking forward for the out-of-contention Padres, who are reportedly set to count on Renfroe as one of their main outfielders again in 2020. There are clear reasons for that – including Renfroe’s 31 home runs, whopping 22 Defensive Runs Saved, and his three remaining seasons of team control – but they’ll need the 27-year-old to get off the schneid at the plate in 2020 to increase their chances of breaking a seemingly interminable playoff drought.
Although his HR total is prodigious, Renfroe has only been a middling offensive performer this year, according to FanGraphs’ wRC+ metric. His .222/.290/.498 line in 462 trips to the plate has led to an unspectacular 99 wRC+. Despite his defensive excellence, Renfroe’s so-so offense has limited him to 1.9 fWAR, essentially making him an average player. There’s value in that, especially on a cheap salary, though Renfroe looked as if he was destined for better not long ago. When the All-Star break rolled around in mid-July, Renfroe had already put up 2.4 fWAR with 27 homers and a 130 wRC+ in 289 plate appearances. Since then, however, he has dipped to a dismal .169/.260/.291 line with four HRs across 173 PA. Renfroe’s minus-0.5 fWAR during the second half of the season ties him for the fourth-worst mark in the game.
If you’re wondering what caused the destruction of Renfroe’s offensive numbers, it starts with a massive downturn in power – evidenced in part by the noticeable decrease in HRs. Renfroe boasted a ridiculous .361 ISO at the break, but the number has plummeted to a nonthreatening .122 during the second half of the season. A mammoth decline in impactful contact is an obvious cause. According to FanGraphs, Renfroe posted a hard-hit rate of 52.1 percent over the first couple months of the year. The figure has fallen to 33.7 since the All-Star Game, while Renfroe has made far less contact in general and seen his strikeout rate soar from 27.3 percent to an even 37.0.
Health may be factoring into Renfroe’s late-season issues, as manager Andy Green said Tuesday (via Dennis Lin of The Athletic) that his production has “suffered because of” a sore elbow and a problematic ankle. Likewise, it hasn’t helped Renfroe’s cause that pitchers have somewhat changed their approach when he has come to the plate, having thrown more sliders against him as the season has progressed, per FanGraphs. Renfroe’s especially vulnerable when dealing with breaking pitches, according to Statcast, which credits him with a .237 weighted on-base average/.219 expected wOBA against those offerings.
By Statcast’s standards, Renfroe’s overall output has been something of a mixed bag. He ranks in the league’s 66th percentile or better in exit velocity and Statcast’s Outs Above Average defensive metric, but his other numbers aren’t as encouraging. For one, Renfroe’s expected batting average – .218 – dwells toward the bottom of the league (third percentile). And his xwOBA (.310; 27th percentile) also doesn’t offer much encouragement, suggesting he has actually been fortunate to hit for a real wOBA (.328) that’s more mediocre than spectacular.
In spite of his second-half woes, it’s evident San Diego views Renfroe as a player who could be part of the solution as it seeks a return to relevance. But if Renfroe’s really going to emerge as a high-end complement to the likes of Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado in 2020, the Padres will need the player who showed up during the first half of this season to reappear going forward. If healthy, perhaps he will.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- The Padres continue to feature numerous possibilities and numerous questions in their outfield mix, as AJ Cassavell of MLB.com writes. The certainties? Per Cassavall, Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe can be written into the lineup for 2020 … on the short side of the platoon, at least. Needless to say, that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of stability. Wil Myers, Josh Naylor, Franchy Cordero, Travis Jankowski, and Nick Martini represent options, but only that. It’s possible to imagine any number of possible roster maneuvers over the course of the coming winter; it’s equally plausible that most or all of the existing slate of candidates will simply do battle in camp.
- Franchy Cordero has suffered another setback while rehabbing a quad injury, Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. Padres manager Andy Green told Sanders and other media members that Cordero’s bothersome left leg “just doesn’t feel as explosive as the other leg,” and that Cordero has “been slowed down to hopefully ramp him up again in a couple days, but I think we know where the clock is on this season. It’s ticking. I don’t know if he or isn’t going to get back.” Elbow and quad problems have limited Cordero to only nine games in 2019, and since Green said that the club’s priority is to get Cordero healthy for the offseason, the outfielder likely won’t be brought back for a few token appearances if there’s any hint he might not be 100 percent.
- In more promising Padres health news, Green is hopeful that both Garrett Richards and Jacob Nix will be able to get onto a Major League mound before the 2019 campaign is out. Richards is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, while Nix has been working through a small UCL tear in an attempt to avoid his own TJ procedure.
- Padres southpaw Adrian Morejon will not make it back to the bigs in 2019, Dennis Lin of The Athletic tweets. That’s not to say that the widely hailed 20-year-old isn’t making progress. His injured shoulder is in good enough shape to allow Morejon to resume throwing. Though he struggled quite a bit in limited MLB action, Morejon has generally shown all the skills that made him a consensus top-100 leaguewide prospect. He’ll likely again factor into the San Diego plans next season, though he’ll do so without much of an innings base to work from. Morejon has not yet thrown more than 65 1/3 frames in a given campaign and fell shy of that mark this year.
The Padres announced prior to tonight’s game that they’ve selected the contract of infielder Seth Mejias-Brean from Triple-A El Paso. San Diego also recalled right-handers Eric Yardley and Gerardo Reyes.
It’ll be the first call to the big leagues for Mejias-Brean. The 28-year-old was originally selected by the Reds in the eighth round of the 2012 draft and also spent the 2017-18 seasons with the Mariners before inking a minor league pact with the San Diego organization this winter.
In 117 games with El Paso, Mejias-Brean turned in a strong .316/.371/.455 line with 11 home runs, 18 doubles, three triples and four stolen bases. Beyond those offensive contributions, he provided the Chihuahuas with some versatility, lining up at both shortstop and third base in a roughly even distribution. Brean hasn’t previously performed at such a lofty offensive level, but he’s a career .269/.334/.382 hitter through 1471 Triple-A plate appearances and also has ample express at first base, so he’ll give San Diego some fairly versatile bench depth in the season’s final month.