Well, the 2020 MLB Playoffs are upon us. As baseball finally moves into its Bubble phase, 16 teams are squaring off to determine this year’s World Series champion. While it’s hard to think that there won’t be an asterisk next to the 2020 title, a champion will be crowned.
The MLB is a fickle beast. Star-driven and tank-friendly, teams in the dumpster one year can be the king of the mountain the next. With that, stakes are high for almost every team as they make their playoff run, with sought-after stars often heading for greener pastures if they feel their squad can’t get over the hump.
We’re looking at each of the MLB playoff contenders and diving into what’s at stake for each team, the odds of making a deep run, and key storylines to watch.
Let’s hit the San Diego Padres, and their chances at securing a ring in 2020.
The San Diego Padres
Expectations: NLDS appearance
The last time the Padres made the postseason was 2006 when Bruce Bochy was their manager and Mike Cameron their best player. Now they’re in second place in the West, and they’re only going to get stronger down the line. The Padres are an explosive team, but they’re very young. A deep run might not be in the cards, but if they end up lined up opposite the Cardinals or Marlins in the first round, look for them to take the series.
It’s in the Divisional Round where they might come up against the Dodgers, who despite having gone 6-4 against the Padres in the regular season, will be locked in and ready to fight. And they have experience on their side.
What’s Working for Them: Hot Bats.
The Padres have an explosive offense that extends beyond their big marquee players. Fernando Tatis, Jr. is arguably the most exciting player in MLB, and his 2020 sophomore season is proof. Manny Machado is having another incredible year, similar to the one that saw him dealt at the deadline in 2018.
But it’s the sneaky bats of Wil Myers, Jake Cronenworth, Trent Grisham, and even Eric Hosmer that really are where this lineup heats up. Specifically looking at Myers, the former Rookie of the Year has a higher Slugging% than the aforementioned Tatis, Jr., and Machado. Myers hits in the middle of this lineup, yet rakes like a three-hole hitter.
This Padres team can flat out hit. But you already should be aware of that.
What Might Hold Them Back: Youthful Exuberance.
The Padres are the youngest team in baseball, with their roster averaging 26.7 years old. With that youthful roster comes inexperience in the playoffs.
Take their starting rotation for example.
- Zack Davies: 1 inning of postseason work.
- Dinelson Lamet: 0 innings of postseason work.
- Chris Paddack: 0 innings of postseason work.
- Mike Clevinger: 12 innings of postseason work, 1 career postseason start, 4.50 ERA in the playoffs.
- Garrett Richards (The oldest starter on the Padres): 0 innings of postseason work.
Even one of the Padres’ most used bullpen arms, Drew Pomeranz, was famously not used in the Boston Red Sox 2018 World Series run. The Red Sox didn’t even use him in their 18-inning marathon game, despite Pomeranz being their only option aside from a position player.
This Padres team will be going where most of them have never been before. Hopefully, veterans like Machado, Hosmer, and even deadline acquisition Clevinger (despite his injuries holding him out of the Wildcard round and possible NLDS) can help their young teammates navigate the ins and outs of October baseball.
Storyline to Watch
The San Diego Padres are playing with house money at this point. Much like the Chicago White Sox in the American League, they have a deep farm system and we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg where prospects are concerned. The Padres still have Mackenzie Gore in their system, one of the top pitching prospects in the game, whose debut will be hotly anticipated in the coming years.
That being said, there’s no real expecations with this squad. They weren’t supposed to be so good so soon, and here they are.
In the playoffs.
After failing to make the postseason in almost 15 years.
This Padres team is fun to watch, and if you have the chance to catch one of their games, do it. When this team gets hot, they do not let off the gas. They didn’t earn the nickname “Slam Diego” for nothing.
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