The Padres closed out a bitterly disappointing season Sunday with speculation swirling around manager Jayce Tingler and just when the team might fire him.
The talk isn’t so much about if. Observers have all but closed the book on Tingler, who completed his second season at the helm of the Padres in the team’s 11-4 loss in San Francisco Sunday.
With the win, the Giants clinched the National League West title. The Padres finished third, below .500 at 79-83, far closer to the 4th place Rockies than the Giants. They trailed S.F. by a hefty 28 games.
“You struggle the second half, and, you know, you hit what feels like the bottom,” Tingler said.
The struggle was real. Through the All-Star break, the Padres had compiled a 53-40 record and the Giants were within their sights, ahead by six games. The NL West was shaping up as the best division in baseball, and the Padres had serious wild-card hopes.
The Giants and the Dodgers both fulfilled their promise, winning 107 and 106 games respectively.
The Padres, however, went a dismal 26-43 the remainder of the way, giving way to the Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals in the wild-card race.
The first half remains a testament to what the team can do. Manny Machado noted that the Padres proved they are able to play the top of the division tough.
“We’ve shown that we can,” he said. “Obviously we fell through there at the end, you know, and we collapsed.”
The injury-bug bit the Friars hard, particularly the pitching staff. Starters Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Chris Paddack finished the season on the injured list. Machado acknowledged Sunday that he’d been battling unspecified lingering injuries for most of the season.
And shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., was an All-Star who mounted a viable MVP campaign despite missing 32 games with his ongoing shoulder issue.
He ended the year with 42 home runs to lead the NL, adding 97 RBIs while hitting .282. While proud of his performance, the team’s situation weighed on Tatis, he told MLB.com.
“It’s been really hard,” he said. “Us not making the playoffs, it was just a dagger straight to the heart, especially with the type of team we had.”
Tatis wasn’t the only bright spot for the Padres. A newcomer, closer Mark Melancon, saved 39 games in his first season in San Diego, to lead the majors. Another Padre newbie, local Joe Musgrove, finished the 2021 campaign with an 11-9 record, and 203 strikeouts.
The El Cajon native also pitched the Padres’ first no-hitter in franchise history, against the Texas Rangers in April.
Positives aside, how much of the responsibility for the season’s failure falls to Tingler remains to be seen.
MLB Insider Jon Heyman reported Saturday that the skipper “will be relieved of managerial duties by the Padres” without stating a time frame.
The team, meanwhile, called the tweet premature, as the Union-Tribune reported on Twitter, with writer Kevin Acee labeling the speculation “typical firing season stuff,” before conceding that “the expectation is Tingler and the coaching staff will be dismissed.”
Tingler took on the questions in the post-game press conference Sunday, saying he would like to stay.
“Of course, I want to be a part (of the team) going forward,” he said.
A talk with president of baseball operations A.J. Preller is on the horizon.
“I don’t have an update. We’ll talk again when we get back to San Diego,” he said.