Five Padres who could have stronger second halves

A rundown of Ross, Kemp, Cashner, Myers and Melvin Upton Jr.

Five Padres who could have stronger second halves

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

Five Padres players I'm expecting more from during the "second half" of the season -- unless they are involved in late-season trades:

 Tyson Ross: The 28-year-old, right-handed starting pitcher was 3-0 -- and the Padres were 4-1 -- over his last five starts before the All-Star break. His earned run average during the run was 1.82 -- he allowed six runs on 15 hits and 13 walks with 29 strikeouts in 29 2/3 innings. His control is still an issue, but his slider has been devastating. His earned run average tumbled from 4.02 to 3.34, and he hasn't allowed a home run in 14 starts since April 28 -- a run covering 86 2/3 innings.

Matt Kemp: The swing looks better and he closed the first half on a five-game hitting streak, going 9-for-21 with two doubles, two homers and five RBIs. Kemp's career has followed an unusual path -- strong Aprils (.319 career with 36 homers in 183 games), weak Mays and strong finishes (.293 career after the break with 90 homers in 461 games). Kemp, 30, hit .309 after the All-Star break with the Dodgers last season with 17 homers and 54 RBIs -- and a Major League-leading .606 slugging percentage.

Kemp's solo homer

Andrew Cashner: Like Ross, the right-hander has looked sharper recently. Cashner, 28, is 1-1 over his last three starts -- and the Padres are 2-1 -- with a 3.05 ERA. Included in that are two of his best season starts, which were against Arizona and St. Louis. And two of the four runs he allowed at Pittsburgh in his final start of the first half scored after he left the game. Cashner is 3-10 with a 4.10 ERA after 18 starts, but he has been dealing with a number of outside issues from shoddy defense to poor hitting to off-the-field matters concerning the health of his mother. Cashner is the subject of trade rumors.

• Wil Myers: We don't know when the 24-year-old outfielder-first baseman will return. But when he does return from bone spur removal surgery, he should be healthy and the Padres will be better just having him in the lineup. Myers has been on the disabled list for all but three games since May 10, and won't return for at least another month. When CF Myers was in the lineup, the Padres were 19-15. When he was first injured, he led the Major Leagues in runs scored. Without Myers, the Padres have been a very different team. Through 159 plate appearances, Myers was hitting .277 with 10 doubles, a triple, five homers, 19 RBIs and 30 runs scored.

M. Upton's RBI single

• Melvin Upton Jr.: With Will Venable being a potential trade target because he is a free agent at the end of the season, Justin Upton's older brother, 30-year-old Melvin, figures to see more time in center because he is the Padres' best defensive center fielder, and because the Padres must determine if there is anything left in his game after his two disastrous seasons in Atlanta (.198 in 910 at-bats). Although, he hit only .255 in eight seasons with Tampa Bay, he hit 118 homers in 966 games and reached base 34 percent of the time with 232 steals.

FROM THE SCORECARD:

• Closer Craig Kimbrel has successfully converted 23 of 24 save attempts this season. He went more than an inning Sunday for the first time this season. In 18 appearances since May 25, Kimbrel has allowed two runs on 13 hits and nine walks with 25 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings for a 1.02 earned run average -- lowering his season ERA from 5.74 to 3.24.

Kimbrel secures the win

• Right-handed reliever Shawn Kelley hasn't allowed a run over his last five outings covering 7 1/3 innings. He has allowed four hits with 11 strikeouts. Since May 17, Kelley has given up runs in only two of 21 appearances with a 1.16 ERA. He has allowed three runs on 16 hits and two walks with 27 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings. His ERA has fallen to 3.38 from 9.35.

• Tim Federowicz caught an opportunity to play Monday in the second game of his rehab assignment with low Single-A Fort Wayne. He played seven innings after serving as the TinCaps' designated hitter Sunday. In two games, he is 1-for-7. A rehab assignment for a position player can last up to 20 games.