When we last spoke to T.J. Lauerman, OOTP’s Baseball Community Manager, he had taken over the rebuilding San Diego Padres after polling the OOTP Twitter account’s followers regarding which team he should helm. The team finished 58-104 in 2017 but improved to 80-82 in 2018 and seemed poised for a possible breakout season in 2019.
We followed up with him to see how the team has done since then. You can keep up with the latest goings-on during Lauerman’s weekly live broadcasts on OOTP Developments’ Twitch channel.
Asked if he reached his goal of a .500 record in 2019, Lauerman replied: “In a word, ‘no.’ In multiple words, ‘we failed miserably.’ After a rash of injuries and players being affected by aging a little more than expected, we fell tremendously back to 61-101. This was pretty heart-breaking.”
He added: “I think we were all a little depressed have regressing so much after nearly playing .500 ball in 2018. However, seeing players like Carlos Asuaje and Allen Cordoba blossom into great infielders who can also swing the stick has been exciting.”
Regarding key deals, Lauerman noted: “The biggest deal for us came in the 2019 offseason where we able to trade Chris Tillman and Travis Jankowski to the Indians after sub-par seasons for some prospects.” That one was important because it allowed them to bolster their starting rotation by with two starters, international free agent starting pitcher Juan Tinajero and Jon Gray.
2020: A new hope
Those offseason moves gave Lauerman some hope heading into 2020, and so far, he’s been rewarded with a 22-21 record that put San Diego 3.5 games behind the first place Los Angeles Dodgers and 1 game out of a Wild Card spot.
It’s still early in the season, but Lauerman said “here has been some good stuff going on in 2020 so far. Jon Gray has seemingly bounced back from a 6-17 record with a 6.99 ERA with the Rockies in 2019, to be 5-2 with a 2.87 ERA through 8 starts with our Padres. Also, Juan Tinajero, the aforementioned international free agent, has started his MLB career strong, going 4-2 with a 3.28 ERA and tossing a complete game shutout against their division rival, the Dodgers.”
Regarding the rest of 2020 and beyond, Lauerman said: “We’re still trying to load up our team with young talent and filling in the holes with some veterans. I believe we’re really getting close to the tipping point of when we can be a regular contender.”