When the San Francisco Giants jumped out to a fast start and never looked back, conventional wisdom dictated that three NL West teams would make the playoffs: the winner of the battle between the Giants and the Dodgers would take the division, while the other would join the San Diego Padres as wild-card teams. But the Cincinnati Reds are now poised to break that hegemony.
The Reds completed a four-game sweep of the Miami Marlins on Sunday, taking a one-game lead for the second NL wild-card spot over the Padres in the process.
Reds still see hopes of catching Milwaukee
Cincinnati defeated Miami 3-1 on Sunday to cap the sweep, rebounding from losing two out of three to the Cubs earlier in the week. Next up, the Reds head to Milwaukee starting on Tuesday to face the Brewers in three games. Those games give Cincinnati a chance to close the 7.5-game gap in the NL Central, but the team also knows that every game is now critical in the wild-card race.
“Three huge games,” Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson told reporters. “But if we can go out there and sweep them, that’s going to make things really interesting. They’re huge. We know that. They know that.”
Meanwhile, the Padres have dropped nine of their last 11 games to threaten their playoff hopes. Not only has San Diego fallen 13 games back of San Francisco in the NL West, but they’re now a game back of Cincinnati for the second wild card following a 7-4 home loss to the Phillies on Sunday.
San Diego fires Rothschild after August skid
Following the game, San Diego fired pitching coach Larry Rothschild in reaction to its recent struggles on the mound.
“Instead of waiting and seeing what’s going to happen and staying stagnant, I thought the best thing to do for this team moving forward is to bring in a different voice, different message, different perspective right now,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler told reporters.
San Diego bullpen coach Ben Fritz will take over as the pitching coach for the remainder of the season. While the Padres have pitched to a 4.82 ERA in August, injuries have played a large role in that issue, as starters Yu Darvish, Dinelson Lamet, and Chris Paddack are all on the injured list along with reliever Drew Pomeranz.
“We’ve certainly had some injuries,” Tingler said. “But we’ve had some inconsistency on the mound. I just think at the end of the day, we haven’t reached our level of production consistently on the mound. With 36 games to go, we’re trying to give a different message.”
FanDuel Sportsbook gives both the Padres and the Reds identical +1800 odds of winning the National League pennant. But, other analytics tell a different story about these two teams.
FanGraphs gives Cincinnati a 64% chance of making the playoffs, including a 3.3% shot at catching the Brewers and winning the NL Central. Meanwhile, the site sees the Padres as having just a 26.3% shot of getting to the postseason, with no hope of topping the NL West.