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Sammy Levitt | 97.3 San Diego Padres Pre/Postgame Host

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence
The Truth Network Radio
August 7, 2023 5:55 am

Sammy Levitt | 97.3 San Diego Padres Pre/Postgame Host

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence

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August 7, 2023 5:55 am

Padres pre/postgame host on 97.3 in San Diego Sammy Levitt joins the show to talk about the surging Padres.

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That's GetJoyFood.com and use the code PODCAST at checkout to get 50% off your first order. Please to welcome Sammy Levitt, who is the pre- and post-game host for the Padres radio network. It's now midnight San Diego time. He's had a chance to breathe. And at this point, there's plenty of time left in the season, Sammy. We know the Padres are making up some ground, so what's gotten into them the last couple of weeks? Well, they've played a better brand of baseball overall, even with the loss earlier tonight.

The Dodgers, they're 18-12 since July began. Obviously, the first half of the season, really, the first 90-100 games, they weren't what people expected here in San Diego. This was a team that came in with true World Series aspirations and even taking a step back before that had real aspirations to win this division. And obviously, the Dodgers have a big lead on them right now, and I don't think anybody here in San Diego is necessarily thinking about the division right now.

But what they are thinking about is the wild card, and that is very, very doable right now. The Padres, even after tonight, after a loss, they're three games out of a wild card spot in the National League. The teams in front of them, whether it be Miami or Arizona or Cincinnati, have not played well lately. And you look at this Padres team, they are super, super talented, and they've done some things this year that would lead you to believe their record should be much better than where it is. The team's below.500. The starting pitching's been pretty excellent all year. The run differential is among the best in the National League. Obviously, they have star power offensively with Soto and Machado and Tsitsis and Bogart.

What Hassan Kim has done. They've got back end relief in Hader and Suarez. It's a team that should have the ability to go on a run here and, I would think, make up three games in the standings in 50 games, especially with the teams really struggling in front of them.

So that's where they are right now. They've played a better brand of baseball here the last month plus, and the key for them right now is they have to keep playing that way and really get above.500 and then go from there. Well, I'm glad you mentioned that because I was going to ask, even if it's just more of a benchmark for where they are and how far they've come, how much does it matter that they are getting so close to that.500 mark? Yeah, well, they've had a little bit of a ceiling with that.500 mark lately. Just in this series against the Dodgers, they had an opportunity to get back to.500 on Friday, had a late lead, bullpen couldn't hold it, and they dropped back to two games below.500.

They get a big time win yesterday, a huge rally in the eighth inning, and I think you could argue their most important rally inning game win of the season yesterday. And then here today, they fall behind 6-0 and they lose the game. They fall back to two games below. So they cannot right now find a way to get back to.500. They haven't been at.500 since May 11th when they were 19 and 19, which is hard to believe considering the level of talent on this team and what the expectations were. But we all, I think, acknowledge here in San Diego that in order for them to get to the postseason, to do what they need to do to get there, and it is doable right now with how the standings line up and the teams ahead of them, all of it, what we just discussed, they are going to have to get back to.500 at some point and then get over it. So that is the next plateau for this team. Like I said, they're playing better baseball, but absolutely getting to.500 and then getting over it, that would be step one in what they need to do these final couple of months. Looking back over the first two-thirds of the season, what would you point to? What culprit, maybe? What challenge? What fatal flaw has kept them from being competitive?

Yeah, there are really two areas, Amy. Number one, they've had issues with runners in scoring position all year. It was a major issue throughout the first half. It's been better lately, but they've been towards the bottom of Major League Baseball in at bats with runners in scoring position, team batting average with runners in scoring position all year.

It's been a big problem all year, and there are still times, even in this nice run they've had since the start of July, where those issues have popped up again. The other part of it is the close games. I mean, there's six and 18 in one-run games. They're 0-10 in extra inning games, which is hard to fathom, being 0-10 in extra inning games, because as you know, Amy, as everybody knows, you're tied going to extra innings. And certainly with the randomness of having the runner on second base now, you would think one of those games would fall your way, especially with the lineup the Padres have.

It is not. They're 0-10. So those two things, issues with runners in scoring position, and then it's been sort of, in some ways, a very mystifying team at times with the issues in close games, the issues in extra innings. But it's just been that way for whatever reason, and they have not been able to figure out those issues in close games consistently. They've won some of them, but there have just been a lot of games that they've lost in a variety of different ways. So that's why when you look at things like run differential, when you look at how good their starting pitching has been, and then you look at their record, it doesn't really make sense, right? Because you would think with some of these numbers, they'd be better.

And in fact, their expected win-loss record is a lot better than where they are. But then you look at the issues in close games and one-run games and extra innings, and it sort of tells the story. And that part of it has been really hard to figure out this season, why exactly they've had so much trouble. Their bullpen has been very good at times.

It's been not as good at times, but still, you know, 6-18 in one-run games is obviously something that's been hard to figure out, I think. Sammy Levitt is with us from San Diego. After Sunday Night Baseball, where the Padres do fall to the Dodgers, but getting so close to that.500 mark, figuring out what's behind the surge and how they can maybe make another run to the NLCS, he's with the pre- and post-game show on Padres radio network and our San Diego affiliate, 97.3, the fan.

It's after hours, CBS Sports Radio. How much confidence can they take from last year when they did get all the way to the NLCS as a wildcard and as a team that made a late surge similar to what they will need this year, Sammy? It's a great point, Amy, and I say this with confidence. I don't think there's any team in the National League that would want to face the Padres if they do get into the postseason. For all the reasons we've discussed, the quality of their starting pitching, the star power they have in the lineup, the back end arms in their bullpen, whether it's a Robert Suarez or a Josh Hader, who's obviously, or I should say arguably, been the best closer in baseball this season.

He's been terrific for this team here in 2023. I think this team should have a lot of confidence. And again, it's a very doable thing they have to do, which is pick up three games right now in a wildcard race in 50 games, especially with some young teams struggling ahead of them.

I think if they get in, they are extremely dangerous. And they should take confidence in the fact that they got in via a wildcard last year. They ended up beating a couple of a hundred win teams in the Mets and the Dodgers in the wildcard round and then the National League Division Series. And a couple of things go differently in the NLCS.

Who knows how that series ends up against the Phillies. So for them right now, in my mind, and I think in their minds too, it is do what we got to do to get in. They've got work to do. They've got rounds to make up. They've got to get back to 500. And yes, everybody thought they'd be battling for a division, and they wouldn't be under 500 here in early August. But if you forget all that and you just focus on getting into the dance, I think this team has a ton of potential to go on the same type of run they did last year and maybe even further if they can get in.

But that's the key right now, getting in. Because again, you look at some of the things this team does well, some of the parts, some of the star power, it would be a team that if I'm in the National League would really scare me if I have to play them in a wildcard round and beyond. No doubt, especially with that experience, they actually did do some homework on Justin Verlander and potentially bringing him in, and it wasn't the right fit. They did have a couple of their own pitchers who were at least dangled, but they didn't like the offers they got at the deadline. So what's your reaction to them not being the Mets, right, not deciding to divest themselves of big time pieces, standing pat and believing that they can in fact make something special of the rest of 23?

Yeah, Amy, I thought it was the right thing to do on a number of different levels. First, I just felt like they were in it. And I looked at the team's ahead of them. And I think, you know, even you know, they were, I'd have to go look where they were a few days before the trade deadline. They weren't three games out of more like five, six games out.

But I thought you were within striking range enough. And there's been so much investment in this team. You know, something we talked about, I think during the playoff run last year was was just the crowd in San Diego and how unbelievable it was. Amy, it's been it's been amazing in San Diego at Petco park this year to give you an idea. They've sold out the building 48 times in 55 openings, including tonight.

Wow. I mean, this fan base has so passionately bought into this team, even despite them not playing up to expectations to this point in the season. You know, I think again, from what they can do if they just get in to the idea of, of rewarding the fan base a little bit and saying, you know, we're not going to trade a Blake now we're not going to trade a Josh either what we're going to do instead. And this is what they did was add on some depth. That's making the trade for G man Choi and Rich Hill from Pittsburgh, getting Garrett Cooper from Miami, some bench pieces, some guys who can DH, they can play some first base, adding Scott Barlow from Kansas City in the bullpen, adding on to this team's depth. You know, I again, I just thought with the potential this team has to go on a run. And with the teams in front of them starting to struggle, I personally thought it was worth just adding a little bit and, and not selling any pieces away. And also from the emotional standpoint, I admit like the stuff with the fans and things like that, that's me talking as somebody who's at the ballpark every night.

But I, you know, I wanted a fun final couple of months, I want these fans to keep coming out and, and be rewarded a little bit with a team that that can go on a run. So I felt that way about it on both those levels. And you know, obviously, you make a great point on the mat, they were in a similar situation, little bit different, just because of the contract for Scherzer and Verlander. And having those guys on short term deals and their older pitchers and all of that a little bit different, but very, very similar in the sense of a team that has a big time payroll, you know, big expectations, and to that point by the trade deadline had not lived up to those expectations. And you're right, they've gone in very different directions. You know, was it 100% the right choice for the Padres not to get a return for snail and hater, things like that? I think that's a conversation we can only have once the season is over. And we see where the Padres go, because I think if they make the postseason, it 100% was the right decision not to move those pieces. So long answer to your question, but I, I really thought what they did was was the right thing to do on multiple levels. And again, I think for them, if they can get in, yeah, they're really, really dangerous. And like I've been saying right now, three games out 50 games to play.

It's very, very doable. This team, all they have to do is play the baseball they're capable of. Well, and you think about the crowds, as you pointed out, which is a major home field advantage, but also their recent sweep of the Texas Rangers, who have been in first place in the AOS the entire season. Sammy Levitt is Padres radio host joining us from San Diego following Sunday Night Baseball after hours CBS Sports Radio. If you don't mind just a couple of words about Fernando Tatis and how he has been reintegrated back into the lineup, the roster effort after everything he went through.

How different is he as a person and a baseball player? Yeah, I think Fernando's done everything right. You know, I was there last summer right around this time when the suspension came down. And when he spoke inside the dugout with Padres president of Baseball Operations, general manager, A.J. Creller, and he apologized and, you know, all of it, you know, that happened last season.

Obviously, it was very disappointing season between the injuries and the suspension, and then ultimately comes back in mid-April this season. I think Fernando's done everything right. He said all the right things. He's come back to the clubhouse, come back to being on the field every day, and has had a terrific attitude. He plays hard. He's embraced playing right field 100 percent.

And, Amy, he's been a Gold Club caliber right fielder. He's been sensational out there. Offensively, I think considering the time he missed a full year in the major league, he's been pretty good.

You know, it's been a little up and down. He's been slumping a little bit lately, but he's been hitting the ball hard, and I think a lot of that's bad luck too. But you look at his numbers, and he's going to end up having some very solid numbers this season. On top of that, dealing with a position change to right field, playing truly a Gold Club caliber right field, and obviously just getting back into the swing of playing major league baseball each and every day, something he hadn't done in a while. So, to me, he's done all the right things even early in the season when he's dealing with hecklers in New York and Chicago.

I mean, he's dancing with them. He's played it the way I thought he should have played it with that personality, the infectious smile he has. He's kind of just embraced it, and there have been no issues with any of that stuff to him. So, it's been fun to watch. He's such an exciting player, and I think all things considered, both with what he's done as far as coming back, what he said, how he's reacted, and what he's done on the field amidst the position change, which is very significant. I enjoyed this season from Fernando.

I think he's done a very good job. Even as the Padres are surging now, they're looking up at the Dodgers again. The Dodgers are the team that people thought, before the season started, really weren't equipped to battle in what was a much deeper NL West. They didn't make a lot of moves.

They lost Trey Turner. What do you think about these Dodgers who seemingly have staying power that they shouldn't? Yeah, Amy, coming into the season, the talk or the wonder was, what would the Dodgers be? Would they be nearly as good as they've been all these years past?

It's a different looking team. They assembled it a little bit differently, relying on younger players coming into the year, but the Constance at the very top of that lineup, Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, and they've both been terrific. I mean, Freeman is one of, if not the best hitter in baseball right now. He's just playing so wonderfully offensively, have a home run today. Mookie Betts also had a home run earlier today or tomorrow or yesterday, I should say, whenever you're listening to this on Sunday.

They're the Constance at the top. They've had guys like JD Martinez signed and Jason Hayward, veterans that have found it again with the Dodgers. I mean, the Dodgers seem to have this ability to take players and find what makes them great again. He's had a great season. Martinez has. Hayward contributed. They make some deals at the trade deadline. Lance Lynn, a good example today of somebody who is not having a good season at all with the Chicago White Sox.

And what do you know? He goes seven innings, three runs, given up earlier this week in his doctor's debut. And he goes six innings, one run given up here today against the Padres.

All of a sudden he looks like Lance Lynn of old. And you look at Ahmed Rosario had a home run today. He K Hernandez is contributing. So they made moves, Rosario Hernandez, lean at the deadline that are contributing right away.

So again, the Constance are Betts and Freeman. They've done some really good things with guys like Martinez. And obviously they have Max Muncy who has been in the lineup for a couple of days.

He's contributing in a major way. They've got James Altman, some other guys, younger players that have contributed. And, you know, their pitching, I think, is still a little questionable, but, you know, they're doing it. They're finding ways. And again, I just always look at the top two right now and Betts and Freeman and they set the tone.

They've both been just simply terrific this season once again. And yet the Padres are making up ground. Now, just three back of the final wild card in the National League and certainly have the experience. The veterans, we know about their power and their pitching.

So watch out. Nobody wants to face them in October, but they got to get their first. Sammy Levitt is the pre and post game host for the Padres radio network and also part of our San Diego affiliate, 97.3 the fan. You can find him on Twitter at Sammy Lev, L-E-V. Great to catch up with you again. Let's see if we'll do this in October, Sammy.

Absolutely, Amy. I hope so. I hope I'm talking to you again after a playoff series at Petco Park. That would be a lot of fun.

Thanks so much. The official Winning Time podcast from HBO is back. I'm Rodney Barnes, executive producer on the show. Magic and the Lakers are back to defend their title. Join me as I break down each new episode with sports writer Jeff Pearlman and the actors, directors, and key collaborators who brought the 1980s Showtime Lakers to life. It's not about basketball. It's about winning. Listen to HBO's official Winning Time podcast on Sundays after the show airs on max.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-07 06:44:32 / 2023-08-07 06:53:03 / 9

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