Padres Activate Fernando Tatis Jr., Place Yu Darvish On IL

The Padres have reinstated Fernando Tatis Jr. from the IL, per a club announcement. He is in today’s lineup, starting in right field, his first career game at a position other than shortstop. Yu Darvish is swapping places with Tatis and going on the IL, with lower back tightness. Additionally, outfielder Brian O’Grady has been optioned, with righty Reiss Knehr being recalled.

Despite ongoing shoulder issues, Tatis has been one of the best players in baseball this year. He has an excellent slash line of .290/.373/.647 on the year, producing a wRC+ of 165. Among players with at least 350 plate appearances, the only ones with a higher wRC+ are Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Shohei Ohtani. The Padres are moving him to the outfield in the hopes that he’ll see less defensive action and will therefore be less likely to re-aggravate the shoulder problems that have already seen him go on the IL three times this season. Having his bat back in the lineup will surely be a boost to a Padres team that has been sliding lately, but still maintains a 2 1/2 game lead over the Reds for the final National League wildcard spot, going into today’s action. Jake Cronenworth, who has been manning shortstop in the absence of Tatis, figures to remain there. Wil Myers, who has been the regular right fielder of late, might be the most at risk of losing playing time.

As for Darvish, he left his start a few days ago with lower back tightness and he will now miss at least one start while recuperating. It’s a serious blow to the Padres rotation, as Darvish is having yet another excellent season. Through 131 1/3 innings, he has an ERA of 3.70, with a strikeout rate of 29.9% and walk rate of 5.7%, both of which are much better than league average. Craig Stammen is starting today, in what figures to be a bullpen game. The San Diego rotation is now down to Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove and Ryan Weathers for the time being. Reinforcements will surely be required, either internally or externally. Kevin Acee of The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the club is considering free agents such as Jake Arrieta, who was released by the Cubs three days ago.