Entering the season, San Diego was a popular pick to dethrone Mookie Betts and the Los Angeles Dodgers and advance to the franchise’s first World Series since 1998. The main reason being, the nucleus of young stars led of course by Fernando Tatis and Manny Machado. However, for a squad to dethrone a team as loaded and multi-faceted as the Dodgers, the right blend of experience and young talent is needed.
That need for veteran leadership to balance out the enthusiastic rebellion of the new school is why outfielder Tommy Pham, in his 8th MLB season, is on the team. While his professionalism is duly noted, the outfielder was hitting .128 entering Sunday night’s series finale against the Dodgers.
I’m going to say what everyone was thinking: “You’re not carrying your weight, Pham.”
At least those were the grumbles behind the scenes and in the Black Knight barbershops. Pham’s ears must have been tingling because his lackluster bat woke up at the right time for the San Diego Padres, who were trying to avoid a sweep in a tone-setting, early-season series against the LA Dodgers, in a game that meant a lot more to the upstart Padres (10-7) than the seasoned World Champions who are 13-3 and rolling through the league.
The Dodgers took the first two games of the series thanks to some clutch hitting (scored 5 runs in the 12rh to win Game 1) and otherworldly defense (Mookie Netts’ shoestring diving catch to end game, which had a 10 percent probability rate.)
In Game 3, Tommy Pham finally made an appearance for the San Diego Padres, getting a clutch hit that led to 5 unanswered runs to rally from a 2-0 deficit and win a game that is a tremendous confidence booster for a squad who believes that they have the onions to go head up with the Dodgers.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) April 18, 2021
It was a huge hit for a career .270 hitter who has been battling the Mendoza line since COVID hit in 2020. Pham’s never been as productive as his 2017 season when he made a huge splash by going 20-20, hit .306 2ith a .931 OPS.
Pham had 23 homers and 25 steals and finished 11th in the MVP voting for St. Louis. The Cardinals missed the playoffs that year for the second consecutive season and by the end of 2018, Pham was tearing it up for Tampa Bay, batting .343 after coming over from Da Lou.
Pham has explosive power, speed and experience in high profile games. The numbers are ugly right now, no doubt. But the Padres organization knows the caliber of player they have and if Pham gets on a hot streak, he’s one more weapon that will come in handy against the Dodgers.
A secret weapon almost, with guys like Fernando Tatis, Manny Machado, Eric Hosmer and Trent Grisham getting all the press.
Jayce Tingler was asked how badly Tommy Pham needed that clutch hit today: pic.twitter.com/HB2zrw6ukU
— 97.3 The Fan (@973TheFanSD) April 19, 2021
Pham is the kind of competitor whose game elevated in the playoffs, In fact, he became a considerably better player when the pressure is the highest. Pham has a .375 career playoff batting averages, with three home runs and 19 hits in 54 at-bats — a couple of them huge ones. He’s played in two ALDS and two WILD Card games in each league.
His first post season at-bat back in 2015, resulted in a homer, showing early on that he rises like yeast in October.
The Padres have to get through the Dodgers in the regular season and the playoffs to ascend to the MLB mountaintop. So, yeah they’re going to need Pham to be on point, but I wouldn’t panic because come playoff time, if the Padres do shock the world I can almost guarantee Pham will be in the middle of it. Someway, somehow. That’s just how he gets down.