The San Diego Padres are 67-74 as they begin a nine-game road trip. The club finished a long 11-game home stand with a disappointing 4-7 record. While the record may not indicate that the team is playing well as we enter the final few weeks of the season, there have been a few standout individuals who have really established themselves in the second half of the season.
Three players have shined who many didn’t expect to, given their first-half struggles and unexpectedly good play. Besides Matt Kemp‘s summer resurgence, here are three others who have shown the organization they will be in the mix for starting jobs in 2016:
1) Jedd Gyorko
2015: 85-344 (.247/.300/.410), 14 2B, 14 HR, 49 RBI
Last 30 Games: 32-118 (.283/.317/.540), 8 HR, 26 RBI
Gyorko, whose early struggles landed him in Triple-A El Paso, has turned into a completely different player since being recalled from the minors. He was even subjects of trade rumors before the deadline in a deal that would have sent him to the New York Yankees. Every day he looks more and more like the Gyorko of 2013. Although he’s still far better hitter against left-handed pitching than right-handed pitching, he has raised his line to .234/.275/.391 versus righties. At the beginning of the year, these numbers were all far worse. While his days at shortstop are probably numbered, he has hit well enough to be the leading contender for the starting second base job next season. The upside is still there for a 25-homer, 80-RBI season if he can remain healthy.
2015: 126-457 (.276/.329/.433), 30 2B, 3 3B, 12 HR, 57 RBI
Last 30 Games: 34-112 (.304/.367/.500), 5 HR, 17 RBI
Solarte has really played above expectations all season, and he continues to show why he should be a starter on next year’s team. He started off the season red hot before slumping to about the .250 mark. Since the All Star Break, he has been red hot to raise his average back above .270. He has shown extra-base power and displayed some pop by hitting 12 homers. He has been leading off and while he might project better in the two spot, he has performed well batting first. His fielding is still a bit of a question mark, but if he can continue to grow as a fielder, he’d be a cheap option at third base for 2016. This will allow the team to look to acquire a shortstop or a power-hitting first baseman, preferably from the left side of the plate this offseason.
3) Ian Kennedy
2015: 8-13 (3.99 ERA, 26 games started) 146.2 IP, 137 H, 65 ER, 46 BB, 151 SO
Last 7 Starts: 2-4 (2.91 ERA) 43.1 IP, 34 H, 14 ER, 16 BB, 57 SO
After struggling to begin the season, Kennedy’s stock as a potential free agent continued to lower until about mid-June, when he began to pitch like the pitcher he was last season. He has continued to show his ability to be a dependable mid-rotation starter. Rumblings of the Padres offering him a qualifying offer have now surfaced, first reported by Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune. While no free agent has ever accepted a qualifying offer, he could end up taking it. Why? With the market of starting pitching so deep, it may be hard for Kennedy to get the deal he wants. He could accept the offer and pitch in Petco Park another season, before trying again next offseason. If not, the club could recoup a draft pick if he signs elsewhere. If he does re-sign in San Diego, it would also help to address a dire need for starting pitching. While the Padres could look at the high-end starters on this year’s free agent market, settling for a number three or four starter is far more realistic given the team’s other needs.
- Yonder Alonso (back) had a bone scan done which showed his injury was far worse than previously thought, tweets Dennis Lin. It revealed a stress reaction. The team has decided to shut him down indefinitely. It sounds as though he will miss the rest of the season. Alonso finished the season with 18 doubles, one triple, and five home runs (.282/.361/.381).