At the All-Star break, the Padres envisioned life in the National League wild-card chase for the final 20 games of the season.
They're part of the race, just not as a contender.
Although the Padres have faded from contention, 14 of their last 20 games will be against teams contending for at least the second wild-card berth. That includes 10 games against two of the teams -- the Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks -- who are currently riding on either side of the bubble.
The Padres open a four-game series in San Diego on Monday night against the Cubs, who currently hold a 1 1/2-game lead over Arizona for the second wild-card berth, with both Milwaukee and Philadelphia two games behind Chicago.
The Padres also have six games remaining -- split evenly in home-and-home series -- against the Diamondbacks. And the Padres play four games at Milwaukee starting Sept. 16.
Padres manager Andy Green doesn't really like to think of his club in the role of "spoiler."
"Our goal is always to win games," said Green. "We want to finish strong and take a look at players who could be impactful for us next season."
But if the Padres do finish strong and win games, they are going to spoil someone's playoff hopes.
First up, the struggling Cubs ... who received more bad news Sunday.
Already without varsity shortstop Javier Baez due to a broken thumb, backup Addison Russell came out of Sunday's game an inning after being hit in the head by a pitch. Russell stayed in the game right after being hit. He stole second and scored, then came out of the game.
Later, the Cubs issued a statement saying Russell had "suffered a nasal contusion and was under evaluation for concussion symptoms."
So who plays short without Baez or Russell? David Bote played there Sunday. But Kris Bryant also missed that loss due to a sore knee.
The Cubs might not know who will be at short and third Monday, but they will start Kyle Hendricks (9-9, 3.39 ERA) against Padres rookie Cal Quantrill (6-6, 4.57 ERA). It will be the second time this season that the right-handers have been paired.
Hendricks' season has blown hot-and-cold depending on where he has pitched. Quantrill's rookie season has recently gone frigid.
Hendricks is 5-2 at Wrigley Field this season with a 1.77 ERA, a 0.779 WHIP and a .186 opponents' batting average. On the road, he has a 4-7 record in 14 starts with a 1.445 WHIP and a .295 OBA.
Hendricks also has a 5-2 career record in nine starts against the Padres, with a 2.98 ERA. At Petco Park, Hendricks is 3-1 in four starts with a 3.24 ERA.
The Padres stuck Hendricks with one of his losses at Wrigley, when he gave up two runs on four hits and two walks with five strikeouts in seven innings on July 21. But the bullpen gave up three runs over two innings.
Meanwhile, Quantrill came out of the bullpen to allow two hits and no walks with six strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings to earn the win. He has been in the Padres' rotation ever since.
In his last two starts, Quantrill has given up 16 runs on 18 hits and four walks in just 9 1/3 innings as his ERA shot up from 3.32 to 4.57.
--Field Level Media