Padres might be one year away from dethroning the Dodgers

(Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images) /

We’re a week or so away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Arizona. As someone who lives in Chicago who has been inundated with snow and below-zero temperatures for some time, that day cannot come soon enough.

There’s a buzz and anticipation in the air surrounding the Padres we haven’t felt in some time – maybe even in decades. After an offseason filled with big-time moves and trades, AJ Preller has positioned San Diego to have a legitimate shot at winning the division title.

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But for that to happen, the Padres will have to play their hand just right. There’s absolutely no margin for error when you’re trying to chase down the reigning World Series champions. Padres fans might not like to acknowledge that fact, but that’s the hard truth.

San Diego needs Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. to replicate their efforts from a year ago – and sustain them for 100 games longer. Guys like Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers need to maintain the positive trends we saw from them in 2020 and the supporting cast, namely Jurickson Profar and Jake Cronenworth, has to be consistent.

Padres have questions in the rotation

Preller spent the offseason focused on addressing the pitching staff. They’re bringing back a Cy Young contender in Dinelson Lamet. But there are serious questions about his durability and whether or not he can stay healthy over the course of a full season.

Yu Darvish and Blake Snell, both of whom highlighted the team’s wheeling-and-dealing winter, have battled their own share of issues in the past. Darvish has worked through injuries during his career and Snell has never been an innings-eater given his major issues getting through an order for a third time over the years.

The team won’t get anything from last summer’s big trade acquisition, Mike Clevinger, who will miss the upcoming season recovering from Tommy John surgery. Adding him back into the mix in 2022 will definitely take this team to a new level in terms of pitching depth.

All this to say this team does have questions.

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I think the Padres will be one of the best teams in the Senior Circuit in 2021. If the expanded postseason returns, I suspect San Diego will play in October yet again. But we could be one year away from this group having the consistency and firepower to take down one of the team’s most potent clubs in the Dodgers.