The Padres finished the shortened season with a 37-23 record and will face the Cardinals in the Wild Card Round.
Despite the injuries piling up, the Padres finished the regular season on a high note. After scuffling over the last week or so, the Friars went into San Francisco and prevented the Giants from playing in the postseason. Over the four-game series, we saw Dinelson Lamet leave his start early with the same bicep tightness that put Mike Clevinger on the shelf.
But apparently it’s not serious enough to warrant an MRI, and the Padres don’t view it as a significant injury. He’ll likely get the ball in Game 1 of the playoffs against the Cardinals on Wednesday, who have eliminated the Padres in their last two trips to the postseason.
In 2005 and 2006, the Padres fell 3-0 and 3-1 in a best-of-five series. The latter marked the last time San Diego made the postseason and lost to the eventual World Series champions. The two clubs went in opposite directions after 2006, with the Cardinals going onto win another World Series in 2011 while the Padres faded into the NL West cellar.
St. Louis finished second in the NL Central with a 30-28 record and were arguably hit hardest by COVID-19 cases. Doubleheaders littered their schedule with best efforts to complete a 60-game schedule.
The Cardinals lineup is anchored by former Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. He finished the season with a .305 average to go along with 6 HR and 21 RBI. Yadier Molina may not be back next year, but at age 37, he finished with a .262 average, 4 HR, and 16 RBI. The Cardinals, as a group, finished in the bottom four of the league with only 18 stolen bases. Kolten Wong led the way with 5.
From a pitching perspective, these two clubs match up well. The Padres and Cardinals finished eighth and ninth in team ERA, respectively. Like San Diego, the Cardinals have a rash of injuries in both their rotation and bullpen with Dakota Hudson landing on the 60-day IL and will need Tommy John Surgery.
Adam Wainwright was 24 years old when the Cardinals beat the Padres in 2006. He had 6 strikeouts in only 3.2 innings of work while collecting a save in the NLDS. In 10 starts this year, the now 39-year-old had a great year, posting a 3.15 ERA in 10 starts. With a Cy Young Award on his mind, Jack Flaherty had a disappointing regular season, posting a 4.91 ERA in 9 starts.
The Padres should have the upper hand in terms of offense, as they finished with a .257 team average compared to .234 for the Cardinals. The offense has been streaky as of late, but hopefully, a couple of days off will allow for a reset before entering postseason play. And while there are no fans present, the Padres playing in their home ballpark would figure to have a competitive advantage.
The series kicks off Wednesday at 2 PM (PST).