Cheers! Myers hears from SD fans in finale

Padres drop last regular-season game, hope to host playoff games after Wild Card Series

October 6th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- On Wednesday, the Padres packed their things and left for New York City. A three-game Wild Card Series against the Mets awaits them, beginning Friday night at Citi Field.

But first, they had the small matter of finishing their regular season against the Giants. They did so with a 8-1 loss at Petco Park, locking in their 2022 regular-season record at 89-73 -- their best full-season mark in 12 years.

The finale wasn’t without its share of moments, however. Here are three takeaways:

1. A tribute for Myers
is planning to play quite a few more games at Petco Park this month. If all goes well in the Postseason, he’d like to be playing here into November.

But Myers could still appreciate a special moment in what was perhaps his final regular-season home game as a Padre. Myers’ contract is up after the season, with the team almost certain to decline his $20 million player option. That means Myers, the longest-tenured Padre, would become a free agent.

In the top of the seventh inning, manager Bob Melvin briefly moved Myers to third base. Then he removed Myers from the game. That meant a longer walk back to the dugout for Myers -- who received a standing ovation as he departed. Half an inning later, the team played a montage of Myers on the left-field videoboard, which prompted yet another ovation.

“It was really cool to wave off to the fans, hear the cheers from the dugout and the stands,” Myers said. “It was just a very cool moment.”

Myers has been in San Diego through it all. He has seen the franchise evolve from perennial also-ran to perennial playoff contender. And he’d love nothing more than to go out with a deep October run.

“There’s just more to it than just the regular season this year,” Myers said. “... More than anything I want to play here in San Diego in the postseason. That’s what I’m holding onto now. I think we’re still going to have plenty of games here in San Diego.”

2. Machado finalizes MVP case
With hits in his first two at-bats on Wednesday afternoon,  was one hit away from finishing his 2022 season with a .300 batting average. Alas, he went hitless in his final two at-bats and finished with a gaudy .298/.366/.531 slash line.

Machado may not have hit .300, but he did finish atop the National League fWAR leaderboard at 7.4. That’s the best mark by a Padres hitter since ’s 7.5 fWAR season in 1996.

“He’s MVP caliber,” Melvin said. “What he’s meant to this team is maybe more than any other guy to a particular team. That doesn’t necessarily mean you get the MVP. But he’s an MVP to us.”

That race figures to be among the most fascinating awards debates, with Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado and Freddie Freeman also in the mix. If Machado were to win it, he’d join Caminiti as the only Padres to win MVP.

3. Bullpen decisions loom
Hours before first pitch, was scratched from his start with an illness. The timing isn’t ideal, and Clevinger won’t travel with the team to New York. (Melvin noted that Clevinger’s rapid COVID test came back negative.)

It’s unclear whether Clevinger’s illness would affect his status for the postseason roster. He figured to be included as a potential long-relief option in case of emergency, though he almost certainly wouldn’t make a start until the NL Division Series.

The Padres have some important questions to answer in their bullpen. First and foremost, they need to decide whether they’ll carry nine relievers or 10. (That’s partly contingent on whether they opt to carry both  and  on their bench.)

If they were to carry nine, here’s a guess as to where things stand:

Stammen and Crismatt appear to be on the outside looking in, as they were asked to shoulder the burden of Clevinger’s absence on Wednesday. Stammen pitched three-plus innings and threw 69 pitches -- his most in over a decade -- and Crismatt covered the next four.

The second-longest tenured Padre, Stammen might’ve also been playing his final home game at Petco Park. He said he held back tears in the morning, with his entire family in attendance. But he also knew he had a very specific job to do.

“Wanted the guys that are going to be pitching in the playoffs not to have to pitch today,” Stammen said. “So I think that goal was accomplished.”