Coming out of the gates with a. 3-0 start is what every team in baseball hopes for. But entering play Sunday, just two teams have managed to do so this year: the Houston Astros and the San Diego Padres.
The Padres have ridden their new-look rotation and potent offense to three-straight wins over the division rival Arizona Diamondbacks and will look to finish off the sweep on Sunday afternoon at Petco Park. They’re taking a one-game-at-a-time approach to things, with an eye on the ultimate goal: bringing a World Series championship to San Diego.
“It’s everything we’ve talked about all along,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler told MLB.com. “We’ve got 160 more games. We’re going to use our 26 guys. … Our goal is to be the best team at the end, and we want to improve every month. That means using our depth.”
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Depth is the name of the game for championship-caliber teams and the Padres are no exception. They boast one of the deepest rosters in the league, from a middle infield that could go three-deep to a rotation that has the potential to be historically good and a bullpen with as many as a half-dozen ninth-inning options.
It’ll take all hands on deck if the Padres hope to win their first NL West title since 2006. The Dodgers have had the division on lockdown for the better part of a decade and, after signing reigning NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer this offseason, have no intentions of letting up now.
Padres: Titles are all that matter now
If the end goal is a ring, which it clearly is for San Diego, the easiest path come October would, of course, be winning the division and not worrying about the Wild Card game. There’s too much at stake for a one-and-done postseason appearance. So while the ultimate prize is a World Series championship, right now, every move and decision has to be made with the pre-cursory goal of winning the NL West.
Tingler is focused on keeping his guys fresh – which is why, despite racking up eight strikeouts in his season debut, Blake Snell came out before hitting the five-inning mark on Friday.
“When you get deeper into the season, that’s when you start to let the horses go,” Snell said. “For now, just take it easy, relax. We’re going to build this the right way, and we’ll start to get some innings and some depth. Then we can have some fun.”
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Like I said: eyes on the prize. It’s about championships for the Padres. First, the division – then the ultimate accomplishment: a World Series title.