Every baseball season there are teams you must catch during the right moment, the right series, the right streak. Teams you know could contend, but the lack of consistency is a hindrance.
The San Diego Padres are one of those teams.
And while they lost their series-opener against the San Francisco Giants on Monday, they recently enjoyed a four-game win streak.
I think this is a great opportunity to find value with what can be a very dangerous lineup that ranked eighth in the majors during the month of June with a .266 batting average. Quite frankly, that’s impressive for a team that’s ranked in the bottom half of the league with a paltry batting average the whole season.
In March/April, the Padres hit just .219 and in May they improved a bit to .249.
Finally, the offseason acquisition of Manny Machado and promotion of Fernando Tatis, Jr. are paying off, as the Padres’ offense heads into July like a pack of firecrackers, thanks to recent explosion in Denver.
Remember the middle of June, when that crazy series at Coors Field saw the Padres and Colorado Rockies unload for 92 runs? After losing the first game in that series, San Diego went on a 9-6 run, scoring 104 runs on its own — an average of nearly seven runs per game, at 6.9.
Machado recently produced a 13-game hitting streak and hit safely in 15 of 16 games heading into Tuesday night’s game against the Giants. Through 82 games, Machado was hitting .275, with 20 home runs and 57 RBIs.
Tatis appeared in 49 games, and was hitting .336 with 25 extra-base hits, including 11 homers, and 28 RBIs.
Hunter Renfroe, meanwhile, had a team-high .599 slugging percentage, which ranked eighth in the bigs. In 75 games, the third-year pro had stroked 37 extra-base hits and 24 home runs.
Truth is, if this lineup stays hot, none of this bodes well for the team’s National League West rivals. The Padres head to Los Angeles for a four-game weekend set at Dodger Stadium and could be in third place by Thursday. Given the nature of their rivalry, it wouldn’t shock me to see San Diego win at least two at Chavez Ravine, and challenge the second-place Colorado Rockies by the start of next week.
Don’t sleep on the Padres, who appear to have gotten a little more than Mile High after a recent trip to Denver.
Now, let’s address this terrible slump I’ve been on and aim for a winning week with my three picks.
Brewers at Reds: Let’s look at Milwaukee in this National League Central clash, as I love the pitching matchup in this game at Great American Ball Park. Brandon Woodruff is facing the same Reds lineup he dominated on June 23 at Miller Park, where he registered a career-high 12 strikeouts while allowing just three runs in seven innings. He’s proven to be one of the most consistent starters for the Brewers, with a 10-2 mark and 3.79 ERA.
On the flip side, Luis Castillo has been stellar for Cincinnati this season, going 7-3 with a 2.47 ERA, but two of those losses have been against Milwaukee. On June 22 he lasted just 3 2/3 innings after giving up six runs (four earned). He is 0-2 with a 6.08 ERA in three starts against Milwaukee. BREWERS
Twins at Athletics: I’m heading to Oakland for a play on the home team, as the Athletics will take advantage of Minnesota’s Jose Berrios in what could be a critical series finale against the Twins.
The A’s went into this series riding a three-game win streak and were chasing the Texas Rangers for second place in the American League West before the break. Berrios just gave up six runs (three earned) last Friday against the Chicago White Sox, albeit while preserving a tired Minnesota bullpen that had been exhausted in an 18-inning game against Tampa Bay.
Nonetheless, this isn’t an easy ballpark, and certainly not an easy lineup to solve. I’d much rather rely on Oakland’s starter Mike Fiers, who boasts a 2.61 ERA over his last 12 starts — sixth lowest among American League starters in that span. The right-hander, who is 8-3 this year, is also 6-1 with a 2.77 ERA in 11 career appearances — 10 of them starts — against the Twins. Easy choice for me. ATHLETICS
Astros vs. Angels: So here we have a situation where the Astros will have just finished up their series in Denver two nights prior and return home to face their American League West rivals from Anaheim. But if you remember, at the time of my column a few weeks back, National League teams leaving Denver were 0-8 in their first game out, but American League teams leaving Colorado were 2-0. Well, the Astros — one of the hardest-hitting teams in the league — are back home after that brief two-game junket and host the Angels for three before leaving for eight games in Arlington and Anaheim. The Astros are 31-13 at home this season and will need to carry momentum out of this series before facing the Rangers. The series lid-lifter is a must-win for Houston. ASTROS
Last week: 0-3
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