The San Diego Padres have the roster to compete for a playoff spot this year, but these three scenarios could derail their plans of playing October baseball.
In 2019, the San Diego Padres had just about everything go wrong for them in the second half. Rookie sensation Fernando Tatis Jr.‘s season came to an abrupt end due to a stress reaction in his back. He finished with a .317 batting average and came in third in Rookie of the Year voting, but there’s no question his presence was missed as the team limped to a 70-92 finish.
The prize of the offseason, Manny Machado, batted just .242 in 69 games in the second half, including a .221 average in August and .193 in September. Could the pressure of a ten-year, $300 million deal have gotten the best of him in year one with the team? A strong argument can be made, but Machado has worked on squaring the barrel to the ball more often, so it would make sense for his numbers to normalize in 2020.
The bullpen was a strength for the Padres last year, and it will be again this year, especially adding both Drew Pomeranz and Emilio Pagan to the mix. Kirby Yates was arguably the most dominant closer in baseball, but the bullpen can only take the team as far as the starting rotation carries them.
But apparently, that wasn’t too far, as the rotation followed a respectable 4.38 staff ERA in the first half with a dreadful 5.05 ERA in the second half. After July 4, the rotation did see both Dinelson Lamet and Garrett Richards return from Tommy John surgery, but at that point, the season was already over.
Looking ahead to this year, the Padres figure to be a competitive team, and while they won’t be the favorites to win the NL West Division given the talent and depth that the Los Angeles Dodgers’ roster exudes, they can contend for a Wild Card spot. After that, anything can happen. However, for the team to have a chance, they need to avoid these worst-case scenarios in 2020.