The San Diego Padres, a consensus preseason World Series contender, are currently in a freefall. They didn't get any relief in Wednesday's series finale against the Rockies at Coors Field.
Rather, San Diego sent new addition Jake Arrieta to the mound and found out quickly why the Cubs released him last week. (The Padres quickly pounced because their staff has been decimated by injuries. They have 13 pitchers on the injured list, including Yu Darvish and Chris Paddack.)
Arrieta's Padres debut did not go particularly well. The Rockies tagged him for five runs on seven hits and a walk in only 3 1/3 innings, and Arrieta exited the game with the trainer after throwing 64 pitches. He is said to be dealing with hamstring tightness. The Padres, meanwhile, lost by a 7-5 final despite receiving a pair of home runs from Wil Myers as the Rockies finished the three-game sweep.
In his final 15 starts with the Cubs, Arrieta pitched to a 8.95 ERA and allowed 19 home runs in only 58 1/3 innings. Hitters tagging him for a .355/.421/.645 batting line. Between that, the opposing starter (Chi Chi González and his 6.06 ERA), and the Coors Field factor, Wednesday's game had the highest over/under total of the MLB season at 14 runs, according to SportsLine. The under hit, however, though the teams combined for 11 of the 12 runs in the first five innings.
The Padres turned to Arrieta because they're short on options. Darvish and Paddack are hurt, Dinelson Lamet recently suffered a setback, Ryan Weathers will soon set a new career high in innings, and top prospect MacKenzie Gore has been a mechanical mess since last year. The team's rotation is currently Arrieta, Weathers, Joe Musgrove, Blake Snell, and TBA.
San Diego's recent fade has allowed the Reds to climb to within 1 1/2 game of the second wild card spot. (The Reds lost on Wednesday.) That lead was 4 1/2 games as recently as eight days ago. The Padres are now in a spot where they don't just need Arrieta to chew up some innings. They need him to be effective to remain in postseason position. Given his season to date, that's a dubious proposition.