The San Diego Padres spent big on Fernando Tatis, Jr., Manny Machado, and Xander Bogaerts to anchor their offense, and unloaded the farm to land Juan Soto to steer it all. They’ve got pitching in spades in former Cy Young winner Blake Snell, a resurgent Michael Wacha, the ever-present Yu Darvish, and the return of Joe Musgrove from a busted toe.
Their pitching boasts the 6th most fWAR of any team in the game, their team ERA ranking 8th. Yet still they toil 7 games under the .500 mark in a season as frustrating as any in memory from a club that so recently looked like they were really something.
That’s what the Cincinnati Reds will welcome to town beginning this afternoon, with a series victory at home perhaps the final nail the Padres 2023 coffin. The interesting thing about that, of course, is that should the Padres turn into sellers at the hands of the Reds, they would instantly have the potential to flood the market with pitching - the precise thing the Reds will need to get themselves into September for a playoff chase.
That’s what’s on the line beginning at 5:10 PM ET this afternoon, an early start because Swifties are already descending upon downtown Cincinnati. It’ll be up to Graham Ashcraft to keep the should-be-potent Pads offense off the board, something he’s failed to do for a long, long time now.