Are The San Diego Padres Truly Contenders?

Are The San Diego Padres Truly Contenders?
ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 08: San Diego Padres players stand for the national anthem prior to Game 3 of the NLDS between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres at Globe Life Field on Thursday, October 8, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Kelly Gavin/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

The San Diego Padres finally broke their 14-year playoff drought last season. San Diego’s playoff appearance is credited by the rise of their young core headlined by Fernando Tatis Jr.

After completing trades for All-Star caliber pitchers Yu Darvish and Blake Snell, are the Padres contenders for real?

Overview

The Padres finally broke through last season, reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

Fernando Tatis Jr. recorded yet another stellar season, batting .277 and crushing 17 home runs. Tatis also made the All-MLB First Team in 2020. He finished third in MVP voting. He also won a Silver Slugger Award.

Manny Machado had a solid season, crushing 16 home runs and batting a career-high .304. Machado also finished third in MVP voting and won a Silver Slugger Award as well.

Will Myers recorded another season of success, hitting .288 while crushing 15 home runs.

The hitting core was solid for the Padres but that’s not what entirely stood out. The pitching staff stood out more, especially with a breakout season from Dinelson Lamet. Also, factor in a trade for Cleveland Indians ace Mike Clevinger and that rotation is even better.

Three of the five Padres’ starters pitched to an earned run average under three. Very impressive.

Youngster Dinelson Lamet went 3-1 last season while recording an ERA of 2.09. He struck out 93 batters over 69 innings pitched and recorded a K/9 ratio of 12.1. His stellar sophomore season was good enough to award him All-MLB Second Team honors.

Veteran Zach Davies put in a solid season as well. Davies went 7-4 over the course of 12 games while pitching to an ERA of 2.73. Davies struck out 63 batters over 69 innings which also set him up for a K/9 ratio of 8.2. He also tied Max Fried for second-most wins in the National League with 7, only runner-up to current teammate Yu Darvish.

Davies was acquired in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers in the offseason alongside outfielder Trent Grisham for pitcher Eric Lauer and Luis Urias.

Mike Clevinger finished the season solid but now will miss the 2021 season as he recuperates from Tommy John Surgery.

Offseason And Upcoming Season

Without Clevinger, the Padres’ rotation would look like this.

Back-end starter Garrett Richards is a free agent. So, the San Diego Padres realized they had to bolster their rotation either via trade or free agency.

Pitchers on the free-agent market still include Masahiro Tanaka, Trevor Bauer, and Corey Kluber. Bauer would be the perfect replacement for Mike Clevinger in his absence. Even when Clevinger gets back, the rotation is much stronger.

Masahiro Tanaka or Corey Kluber would fit in well as middle of the rotation starters. Kluber is in the twilight of his career and Tanaka is a second or third rotation starter at best. But, the Padres saw through this.

Acquisitions of Blake Snell and Yu Darvish

Their first big move was acquiring Tampa Bay Rays’ ace, Blake Snell. Snell is coming off of a solid season, going 4-2 while pitching to a 3.24 earned run average. He also struck out 63 batters over 50 innings pitched, while also pitching to a K/9 ratio of 11.3.

He was stellar in the playoffs as well, pitching to an ERA of 2.70, regardless of getting no-decisions in the games he pitched, including the notorious Game 6 of the World Series.

I, like everyone else, found this trade shocking. The Rays came off of appearing in the World Series for the first time since 2008. They needed their ace for playoff appearances down the line. But, that wasn’t the only trade the Rays completed. They also traded stellar closer Jose Alvarado to the Phillies and haven’t re-signed veteran Charlie Morton.

Anyways, the Padres weren’t just going to acquire Blake Snell. They also acquired Yu Darvish, who is coming off of a phenomenal season where he placed second in Cy Young voting. Darvish led the National League in wins with eight. He also pitched to a dominant ERA of 2.01, while striking out 93 batters over 76 innings. He also recorded a K/9 ratio of 11.

The Cubs are heading into a rebuild and saw what the big value they could get for him.

Signing of Ha-Seong Kim

The Padres also signed fellow South Korean infielder Ha-Seong Kim. In the KBO, Kim hit .306 with 30 home runs and 106 runs batted in. He looks to be apart of a fiery power-hitting core alongside Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr.

Are the Padres Actually Legitimate Contenders?

If Ha-Seong Kim develops into a star, I think this San Diego Padres team will be legitimate contenders for years to come. The hitting core should be boosted. Manny Machado finally has a supporting cast. The mix of young and old pitchers will mix greatly. Top-tier pitchers in Blake Snell, Mike Clevinger, and Yu Darvish are bound for success. This team should be feared for years to come.

 

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