If it feels like a long time since the Padres actually made a deep playoff run, that's because they haven't been to the NLCS since 1998. Fernando Tatis Jr. wasn't even born yet! And only the Reds and Pirates have longer droughts from playing in a league championship series.
In fact, the Padres haven't even had a winning record since 2010. Only the Marlins have a longer drought on that front.
Quite simply, the Padres have been one of the worst franchises in baseball for a while. Even last year when they took on the role of a fun, possible breakthrough team, they only won 70 games and finished in last place in the NL West (it should be noted they were 45-45 at the All-Star break and completely fell apart in the second half).
And yet, there's some excitement around new manager Jayce Tingler's team. Let's take a look.
Win total projection, odds
- 2020 Sportsline projection: 27-33
- World Series odds (via William Hill Sportsbook): 50/1
- 2019 record: 70-92
|DATE||OPP||TIME / TV||VENUE|
|Jul 24, 2020||vs Arizona||9:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Jul 25, 2020||vs Arizona||9:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Jul 26, 2020||vs Arizona||4:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Jul 27, 2020||vs Arizona||4:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Jul 28, 2020||@ San Francisco||9:45 pm||Oracle Park|
|Jul 29, 2020||@ San Francisco||9:45 pm||Oracle Park|
|Jul 30, 2020||@ San Francisco||9:45 pm||Oracle Park|
|Jul 31, 2020||@ Colorado||8:10 pm||Coors Field|
|Aug 1, 2020||@ Colorado||8:10 pm||Coors Field|
|Aug 2, 2020||@ Colorado||3:10 pm||Coors Field|
|Aug 3, 2020||vs L.A. Dodgers||9:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Aug 4, 2020||vs L.A. Dodgers||9:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Aug 5, 2020||vs L.A. Dodgers||9:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Aug 7, 2020||vs Arizona||9:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Aug 8, 2020||vs Arizona||9:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Aug 9, 2020||vs Arizona||4:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Aug 10, 2020||@ L.A. Dodgers||9:40 pm||Dodger Stadium|
|Aug 11, 2020||@ L.A. Dodgers||9:40 pm||Dodger Stadium|
|Aug 12, 2020||@ L.A. Dodgers||9:40 pm||Dodger Stadium|
|Aug 13, 2020||@ L.A. Dodgers||9:40 pm||Dodger Stadium|
|Aug 14, 2020||@ Arizona||9:40 pm||Chase Field|
|Aug 15, 2020||@ Arizona||8:10 pm||Chase Field|
|Aug 16, 2020||@ Arizona||4:10 pm||Chase Field|
|Aug 17, 2020||@ Texas||9:05 pm||Globe Life Field|
|Aug 18, 2020||@ Texas||4:05 pm||Globe Life Field|
|Aug 19, 2020||vs Texas||9:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Aug 20, 2020||vs Texas||8:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Aug 21, 2020||vs Houston||9:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Aug 22, 2020||vs Houston||9:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Aug 23, 2020||vs Houston||4:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Aug 25, 2020||vs Seattle||9:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Aug 26, 2020||vs Seattle||9:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Aug 27, 2020||vs Seattle||4:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Aug 28, 2020||@ Colorado||8:40 pm||Coors Field|
|Aug 29, 2020||@ Colorado||8:10 pm||Coors Field|
|Aug 30, 2020||@ Colorado||3:10 pm||Coors Field|
|Aug 31, 2020||@ Colorado||9:40 pm||Coors Field|
|Sep 2, 2020||@ L.A. Angels||9:40 pm||Angel Stadium of Anaheim|
|Sep 3, 2020||@ L.A. Angels||7:10 pm||Angel Stadium of Anaheim|
|Sep 4, 2020||@ Oakland||9:40 pm||RingCentral Coliseum|
|Sep 5, 2020||@ Oakland||4:10 pm||RingCentral Coliseum|
|Sep 6, 2020||@ Oakland||4:10 pm||RingCentral Coliseum|
|Sep 7, 2020||vs Colorado||9:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Sep 8, 2020||vs Colorado||9:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Sep 9, 2020||vs Colorado||8:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Sep 10, 2020||vs San Francisco||9:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Sep 11, 2020||vs San Francisco||9:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Sep 12, 2020||vs San Francisco||9:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Sep 13, 2020||vs San Francisco||4:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Sep 14, 2020||vs L.A. Dodgers||9:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Sep 15, 2020||vs L.A. Dodgers||9:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Sep 16, 2020||vs L.A. Dodgers||4:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Sep 18, 2020||@ Seattle||9:40 pm||T-Mobile Park|
|Sep 19, 2020||@ Seattle||9:10 pm||T-Mobile Park|
|Sep 20, 2020||@ Seattle||4:10 pm||T-Mobile Park|
|Sep 22, 2020||vs L.A. Angels||9:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Sep 23, 2020||vs L.A. Angels||4:10 pm||Petco Park|
|Sep 25, 2020||@ San Francisco||9:45 pm||Oracle Park|
|Sep 26, 2020||@ San Francisco||9:15 pm||Oracle Park|
|Sep 27, 2020||@ San Francisco||3:05 pm||Oracle Park|
- Fernando Tatis, SS
- Tommy Pham, LF
- Manny Machado, 3B
- Eric Hosmer, 1B
- Wil Myers, DH
- Trent Grisham, CF
- Jurickson Profar, 2B
- Francisco Mejia, C
- Franchy Cordero, RF
Among holdovers, the only players who were above average producers in even a half season were Machado and Tatis. Machado had the worst season of his career and Tatis only played a half season. The addition of Pham is a big boost while there's potential in Grisham and Profar. Mejia and Cordero are breakout candidates. Myers, who is only 29, returning to 2015-17 levels would be a nice boost as well. Hosmer hit .318/.385/.498 in 2017 and, at age 30, it's not like he's old.
The point is there are plenty of areas where this group could see overall improvement. It better. The Padres were 13th in the NL in runs while ranking 15th in average, 13th in on-base percentage and 13th in slugging. That's just not gonna cut it.
Paddack has the look of an ace and there won't be workload concerns here in a 60-game season. He can empty the tank. Richards is finally fully functional after years of elbow problems (he tried to avoid Tommy John surgery but eventually had it). It's been a while since he was right, but when he's on, he's excellent. We'll dive deeper on the Padres' rotation below, but there's a real shot it's a good group.
- Closer: Kirby Yates, RHP
- Setup: LHP Drew Pomeranz, RHP Emilio Pagan
- Middle: LHP Matt Strahm, RHP Craig Stammen, RHP Pierce Johnson, RHP Luis Perdomo, RHP David Bednar, Gerardo Reyes, RHP, RHP Javy Guerra
- Long: RHP Cal Quantrill
The setup corps is beefed up now with the additions of Pomeranz (who was an All-Star for SD in 2016) and Pagan. Yates is one of the premier closers in baseball, but if the Padres fall out of the race, he's likely to be traded. He's a free agent after the season. Still, let's approach this as if the Padres contend. That's a strong back-end threesome. As for the depth, it's a bunch of question marks. That's what bullpens are, really, with so much volatility. There's a path to this being a good group, but there are plenty of potential pratfalls as well.
The rotation's potential
I'm all in on Paddack. He's a frontline starter with the potential to grow into even more -- a lot of that dependent on his curveball development. We've seen what Richards can do. From 2014-17, Richards only mustered 70 starts, but he pitched to a 3.06 ERA with a 1.15 WHIP. Control is always going to be an issue, but he's effective when healthy and right now that's the case.
Then there's Davies. He's a pitch-to-contact guy, which is a rarity these days, but going from Miller Park as his home to Petco Park will absolutely benefit him.
Lucchesi was one of the best ground-ball inducers in baseball last season and there seems good potential for an excellent infield defense on this club (advanced metrics didn't like Tatis, but he's such a good athlete surely he'll get better while Machado and Hosmer have long been held in high regard with their gloves).
Lamet came back from Tommy John surgery and made 14 starts with slightly above-average run prevention numbers. He also struck out 105 hitters in 73 innings.
And let's throw another name into the ring here: Lefty MacKenzie Gore is one of the top prospects in baseball. Our R.J. Anderson ranked him fourth this past offseason and here's a sampling of what he said about Gore:
Gore has elicited Clayton Kershaw comparisons due to his delivery and his trademark curveball. It's probably unwise to expect anyone to match Kershaw's career, but Gore does have the chance to become a front-of-the-rotation starter thanks to his athleticism and a deep arsenal that could end up featuring four above-average pitches.
Recently in camp, Gore mowed down some big-leaguers and said he felt a bit off. Hosmer had the following to say, via San Diego Union Tribune:
"I told him, if he was off and that's the stuff he's featuring, he's in for a really good career," Hosmer recalled Tuesday.
"I tell you what, facing him last night, it didn't feel like facing a 21-year-old prospect," Hosmer said. "It felt like facing a big leaguer. … If we have success as a team and we're doing what we want to do in October, MacKenzie Gore is going to be a big part of that."
What's the upside here? Pretty big. Paddack and Richards could pitch like a pair of true No. 2 starters or even approach ace status. Davies is a fine mid-rotation option, just as Lamet and Lucchesi very well could be. Then there's future ace Gore getting his feet wet without an innings limit. If they make the playoffs, Paddack, Gore, Richards, Lamet seems like a playoff rotation that could scare one of the titans of the NL.
Can the vets step up?
There's a lot of fun going on here, but ultimately, if the Padres are to make a playoff run, they need the likes of Machado, Hosmer and Myers to do what they have been paid to do. That didn't happen last year.
Hosmer posted a 93 OPS+ and -0.2 WAR. Yes, a negative WAR.
Machado had a 109 OPS+ and 2.6 WAR, compared to 145 and 5.8, respectively, in 2018.
Myers had a 95 OPS+ and -0.4 WAR. He's not a star, but from 2015-18 he posted a 112 OPS+ with 162-game averages of 28 homers and 24 steals.
None of these guys are old enough to justify the down 2019 season with age-related decline. They had bad years. That needs to reverse.
Also, Pham is now in the mix and that's a big plus. In the past three years, he's hit .284/.381/.475 (129 OPS+). He had 21 homers and 25 steals last year.
If Hosmer, Machado and Myers simply do what they've done in the past, this is a dynamic top five in the batting order. And it all starts with...
Superstardom awaits Tatis
The Padres' leader in WAR last season was Tatis at 4.1. He only played in 84 games due to injuries. What a glorious 84 games those were. In his age-20 season, Tatis hit .317/.379/.590 (153 OPS+) with 13 doubles, six triples, 22 homers, 53 RBI, 61 runs and 16 steals. He could stand to cut down on strikeouts, take more walks and improve his jumps on grounders that aren't hit to him. Does anyone want dispute a player of this caliber not improving those areas, though?
There are several reasons for excitement in Padres' camp and Tatis tops the list. He laps the field, in fact. He's that special.
If the Padres do make the playoffs to snap their drought this year, an integral part of that will be Tatis, and he'll be a strong MVP candidate. At age 21. Yowza.