As the closing curtain comes down on Petco Park and soon the 2014 season, the future of the San Diego Padres shines brighter than ever.
Rarely does a team well out of playoff contention finish the season with a starting rotation in place that is capable of taking a team to the playoffs. The Padres will go into the offseason with a rotation that is now ready to be one of the best in the National League.
Tyson Ross (2.81 ERA, 8.9 K/9) has emerged as an All-Star. Andrew Cashner (2.21 ERA in 18 starts) may very well be an ace. Ian Kennedy has 200 strikeouts for the first time in his career, a career that includes winning 21 games with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011. Odrisamer Despaigne is a diamond in the rough.
“We’ve pitched well all year, and there’s an adage that good pitching beats good hitting,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “That’s been a good adage or a hundred years.”
It was only fitting that the story of this season’s home finale saw 24-year-old pitcher Joe Wieland come back from missing almost two seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery in July of 2012 to win his first career Major League start in a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday.
“To be honest with you, I had to hold back some tears,” Wieland said. “It’s been a long road. Getting called up, I didn’t think it would take 29 months to get the first win. It just makes it that much more special.”
“It’s a lifelong dream to be a winning pitcher in a Major League game,” Black added. “Not many people who start out playing Little League baseball … can say that they’ve won a Major League game. It’s a very good feeling, and it’s a great sense of accomplishment.”
That victory was made possible by first baseman Tommy Medica hitting a three-run homer in the bottom of the first inning right to the Western Metal Supply Co. building to put the Padres on top for the rest of the game.
“He threw a couple sinkers in, and I couldn’t pull the trigger,” Medica said. “I wanted to hit them, but I just couldn’t. He went right back to it, and I got the head out and hit the home run.”
A crowd of 38,589 strong and showed their support while giving the Padres a season figure of 2,195,373 — the largest since 2008. They rewarded their fans by finishing the second half undefeated (9-0-1) in series play and Black is more than happy to no longer hear all the jargon about the ballpark that has surrounded the sky for ten years since it’s inaugural season in 2004.
“Those days are gone,” Black said. “Look at the schedule and look at the teams that came in here,” he said after the game. “[Forty-eight wins] is a good number. These guys can feel good about that.”
The Padres’ 3.21 ERA is second best in the National League, but they are dead last in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
They’re also tied for last in the NL in home runs … with the NL Central winning St. Louis Cardinals.
This offseason will likely see a lot of offensive additions to next year’s lineup. Like the Miami Marlins, anything better than before will make a huge difference.