In 13 games since Josh Bell was acquired by the San Diego Padres, the first baseman is batting just .125 with no homers and two RBIs.
The Padres, who hope to avoid a three-game sweep when they face the host Miami Marlins on Wednesday afternoon, need the proverbial wake-up call for Bell. The 30-year-old former All-Star hit .301 with 14 homers and 57 RBIs with the Washington Nationals this year before the trade.
“He’s gone through a little stretch here,” Padres coach Bob Melvin said of the slump, “but I like his switch-hitting. I like his power. He’s performed all year. He’s going to be a big piece for us.
“We need him to perform in that cleanup spot.”
The Padres, who still hold the National League’s final wild-card playoff spot, also need a good performance from right-hander Mike Clevinger (4-4, 3.47 ERA), who will get the start on Wednesday.
Miami will start right-hander Pablo Lopez (7-7, 3.55 ERA).
Clevinger, who has never faced the Marlins, missed all of last season due to Tommy John surgery. This season, the Padres are 9-5 when Clevinger pitches, though he has just four quality starts in 14 outings.
After San Diego’s 4-3 loss at Miami on Tuesday, San Diego is 32-30 on the road this season.
Miami, which is 25-32 at home, has won consecutive games for the first time since July 13-14.
Lopez tossed eight scoreless innings in his only appearance against the Padres this year en route to an 8-0 road win on May 7. However, Lopez has not had a good second half this season, pitching to a 6.39 ERA in five starts. He had a 2.86 ERA in the first half, covering 18 starts.
Tuesday’s contest saw the Marlins snap a 16-game streak during which they scored three runs or fewer each time. They went 4-12 in that span.
The Marlins keep waiting for more offense, especially from their outfielders.
Over the past few years, the Marlins had high hopes for a variety of outfielders, including Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison, Kameron Misner and Connor Scott. None of them are with the organization any longer, having failed to live up to the franchise’s expectations. In addition, Jesus Sanchez is now in the minors, where he was demoted earlier this month after hitting .205 in 93 games this year.
Now the focus is on JJ Bleday, the fourth overall pick in the 2019 draft.
Through 24 games in the majors, Bleday is hitting .207 with five doubles, one triple, three homers, five RBIs and a .703 OPS.
“He kind of has an idea of what pitchers are trying to do to him, so he’s ahead (of other rookies) from that standpoint,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “He has a good eye, which leads him to getting better pitches to hit.”
Bleday has started in all three outfield positions over the past week, and the Marlins also have used Brian Anderson in right field recently. Anderson, primarily a third baseman in his career, has a powerful arm, which he showed off on Tuesday when he cut down Wil Myers trying to reach third base.
After the game, Mattingly was asked if Anderson could move to right field permanently.
“I think it definitely would be easier on him (and his ailing shoulder),” Mattingly said. “The question is: Can you hit enough? You have to get production out of your outfield.”
–Field Level Media