Padres Daily: Padres rise instead of fall in Chicago; Pro at bats; broken bat; heatstroke

Hello from Denver,

The Padres arrived in Chicago last year in first place in National League West and were swept away.

They left Chicago yesterday after sweeping four games and taking first place.

What does it mean?

There won’t be any such conclusions in this space for at least a few months. Or you don’t remember last year?

Refresh: The Padres were never at the top of the West again, although they looked like a bit of a wild card until late August. But they suffered one of the worst meltdowns in major league history. Their closing mark of 12-34 was the fourth worst ever by a team over .500 with 46 games remaining.

All that can be said at this point is that this year’s Padres are doing what they said they would do – mostly, starting to knock as the weather improved and continuing to get a generally solid throw.

A team that follows through on their predictions is usually a good sign that they can be trusted.

Read about yesterday’s 6-4 win over the Cubs in my Game Story (here), which largely focuses on another Joe Musgrove gem.

The win moved the Padres to 17 games above .500, a mark they reached once in 2021 — on Aug. 10, when they had 46 games to play.

Batting Pro

Jurickson Profar’s ability to see the ball and put a bat on it is a rarity, even in the major leagues.

Only 11 players chase fewer pitches outside the strike zone and make more contact when swinging than Profar, who ranks 38e in MLB with a chase rate of 28.1% and 32n/a with a contact rate of 82.9%.

The important thing now is that he seems to meld the two traits better than he ever has, beating .253/.349/.436 after going 1 for 4 with a home run and a walk yesterday.

“It’s good, and sometimes it’s bad,” Profar said of his ability to make contact. “Even throws that sometimes are not good, I swing. … This year, I’m really working on that. Years before, I was swinging on land outside the zone and still putting it on the line. But I’m not putting it on the line like I’m supposed to. It’s a soft touch. So this year, I’ve focused more on lands in my zone that I can do damage on and put my swing on. And that helped me a lot this year.

Profar’s average exit speed of 87.6mph is the highest of his career, more than 2mph harder than last season. His barrel percentage (5.1) is almost double what it was the last two seasons. Both numbers are still slightly below MLB averages. But then, his on-base percentage is 38 points above the MLB average. He also put 36 balls in play at 100 mph or more in 241 at-bats, seven fewer than he did in 352 at-bats last season.

“Just (become more) mature and know what I can do and believe in what I can do too,” Profar said of his ninth major league season.

Double fist

You don’t see this very often. Eric Hosmer had never had before it happened to him in moto two yesterday.

“I’m pretty sure I broke it (Wednesday),” he said. “But I used it in the cage, I used it out of the machine. It was good. So I guess maybe the last one I took from the machine must have been the one that broke it, and then I brought it to the game and – snap.

Forget that

Since the Padres walked/ran off the field before the tornado warning in Chicago on Monday night, they haven’t taken batting practice on the field.

“It’s not worth it,” said Luke Voit.

He meant because of the 90s heat and energy-intensive humidity levels.

It will be a different experience from the heat of the Padres in Denver over the next three days. Forecasts call for temperatures in the 90s, but it will be much drier in the scarce air a mile high.

Maybe they should give up batting practice until they stop batting. Over the past three days, the Padres hit .379 with 13 doubles, one triple and seven homers. They hadn’t averaged that high or had that many extra hits in a three-game streak this season. (Shout out to the Cubs throwing, too.)

Hosmer said the Royals went two months one summer without batting practice at home due to oppressive humidity in Kansas City.

Michigan-raised Jake Cronenworth was 10 for 17, reached base 14 times in 23 plate appearances, scored five runs and led four in the series. That doesn’t mean he was comfortable doing it. Like many Southern California transplants, he has become accustomed to living in near constant room temperature.

“I don’t like humidity,” he says. “I like the weather in San Diego a lot better.”

Small bites

  • Yesterday was the 18th of the Padrese comeback victory, tied with the Yankees for most at the majors. They have won 15 of 29 games in which their opponent scored first, second in the majors behind the Yankees. They improved to 10-5 on the road when their opponent scores, the best in MLB.
  • The Padres’ overall road record is the best in MLB 24-11.
  • The Padres have beaten opponents 98-43 winning 11 of 14 games since June 3 and now have the third-highest point differential among the majors (plus-74) behind the Yankees (plus-131) and Dodgers ( plus-111) . Prior to that streak, the Padres’ plus-19 differential in 51 games was tied for 10e.
  • Taylor Rogers became the 10e The Padres pitcher saved 20 games before the All-Star break. Trevor Hoffman did it eight times, Heath Bell did it three times. Mark Melançon did it last season. Kirby Yates, Brad Hand, Craig Kimbrel, Huston Street, Mark Davis and Rollie Fingers have also done it.
  • The Padres got the bullpen from the Cubs early and often in all four games. The Cubs have used nine different relievers at least once in the series. Seven of them pitched twice and Scott Effross pitched three times. The Padres have used Kyle Tyler and Rogers twice and five others once. Tim Hill did not cast in the series.
  • In my notes from yesterday (here), MacKenzie Gore said he had heard some nice and not so nice things about Coors Field. “If you go out there and do presentations, you’ll be fine,” he said. And it’s possible to pitch well a mile high. Padres reliever Craig Stammen’s 1.31 ERA in 34 1/3 innings (22 games) at Coors is the lowest all-time among pitchers who have played at least 20 games there.
  • In successive plate appearances in the fifth inning yesterday, Austin Nola found himself tied for second in the majors with his sacrificial sixth fly and Trent Grisham attempted to extend his MLB lead in sacrifice hits. Cubs pitcher Brandon Hughes dunked on Grisham’s bunt try. Nola’s sacrificial fly ended up being the winning RBI.
  • The Padres have the MLB running leader (Profar, with 20) and the RBI leader (Cronenworth, with 21) for June. Both added to their totals yesterday.
  • A lot has happened since the last time the Padres swept the Cubs at Wrigley Field. For one, all Padres players except Stammen made their major league debuts after that sweep, which took place August 16–19, 2010. Stammen made his debut in May 2009.
  • The Padres have won all five season series they have completed – against the Braves, Brewers, Cubs, Pirates and Reds. They finished with a winning record against just eight opponents last season.

Alright, that’s it for me.

Speak to you tomorrow.

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