With the San Diego Padres’ improvement in recent years, the Los Angeles Dodgers are getting slightly concerned.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have had their way with San Diego’s baseball team since the Padres joined Major League Baseball in 1969, especially in the last decade.
During that period of time, the Dodgers have won eight National League West titles. However, the Dodgers did have to wait 32 years before adding another Commissioner’s Trophy to their collection.
According to early predictions, the Dodgers have a solid chance to repeat this year. However, thanks to last year’s performance and recent additions to the team, the Padres have risen dramatically in the rankings. L.A. has made few moves this offseason, while Padres general manager A.J. Preller has been adding and subtracting players at a whirlwind pace. Andrew Friedman and company have undoubtedly taken note.
According to Alyson Footer’s “Here are the 1st Power Rankings of 2021” on mlb.com, the Dodgers have the edge. But the Padres have risen to second place, heady territory indeed. Anthony Castrovince of mlb.com picked the Padres to repeat in the race for the Wild Card. He also predicts that Jayce Tingler will be named Manager of the Year. According to TEAMRANKINGS.com, the Padres have a 100 percent chance to reach the playoffs, along with the Dodgers, New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros, Tampa Bay Rays, Minnesota Twins, and Oakland A’s.
On December 29, Preller traded for starting pitchers Blake Snell and Yu Darvish. Snell won the American League Cy Young Award in 2017, and Darvish came in second in the National League Cy Young Award last year. Former Padres’ farmhand Dinelson Lamet took fourth in the voting. Assuming no news means good news, a healthy Lamet will return to the mound this coming year.
The Dodger’s pitching staff has been the best in the West for years, but this year’s Padres rotation has the arms to challenge that position, even without the addition of top prospect MacKenzie Gore. In an ordinary year, Gore may have seen action last year. Chris Paddack, who burst on the scene last year, had a down year but has the will to rebound.
Padres depth chart/pitcher
Yu Darvish (Chicago Cubs) 8-3, 2.01 ERA, 112 ERA+, 1.073 WHIP, WAR 2.7
Blake Snell (Tampa Bay Rays) 4-2, 3.24 ERA 131 ERA+ 1.200 Whip, WAR 1.1
Dinelson Lamet 3-1, 2.09 ERA, 205 ERA+, 0.855 WHIP, WAR 2.4
Chris Paddack 4-5, 4.73 ERA, 91 ERA+, 1.220 WHIP, WAR 0.3
Adrian Morejon 2-2, 4.66 ERA, ERA+ 93, 1.241 WHIP, 0.0 WAR
Ryan Weathers appeared in one game.
Dodgers depth chart/pitcher
Clayton Kershaw 6-2, 2.16 ERA, 196 ERA+, 0.840 WHIP, 1.7 WAR,
Walker Buehler 1-0, 3.44 ERA, 124 ERA+ 1, 0.955 WHIP, 0.3 WAR
Dustin May 3-1, 2.57 ERA, 165 ERA+, 1.089 WHIP, 1.4 WAR
Julio Urias 3-0, 3.27 ERA, 130 ERA+, 1.145 WHIP, 1.0 WAR
Tony Gonsolin 2-2, 2.31 ERA, 183 ERA+, 0.836 WHIP, 1.4 WAR
David Price opted out.
No doubt, the Padres 2021 rotation has vaulted into the top tier and has the talent to go head to head with the Dodgers. And L.A. can no longer claim the lead in stardom, thanks to Fernando Tatis Jr., one of the most exciting, talented, and charismatic young players in sports.
Preller also signed Ha-seong Kim, one of the top available free agents. In the last two years in Korea, Kim batted .307/.393/.500 with 49 home runs, three triples, 62 doubles, and 56 stolen bases. He can play second, third, and short. Of course, Manny Machado and Tatis Jr. will handle the left side of the infield. Rumor has it that Jake Cronenworth, runner-up in the Rookie of the Year race, will move to left field to make way for Kim, but time will tell.
In normal times, the Padres would also have the advantage of competing with a team worn out from the playoffs added on to a 162-game schedule. Since the New York Yankees won three straight championships from 1998 to 2000, no team has won back-to-back titles. However, 2010’s 60-game season in no way compares to the usual grind.
No doubt, Preller has dusted off his “rock star GM” persona with a flair and purpose. The Dodgers ignore the Padres at their peril. The Padres began their existence in 1969 with an embarrassment of an owner. C. Arnholt Smith actually went to jail in 1984 after years of financial shenanigans, while the Dodgers’ O’Malley family represented the cream of the crop of team stewards.
The Padres now have a respected, committed owner in Peter Seidler, a successful businessman and (ironically) grandson of Walter O’Malley and nephew of Peter O’Malley. Despite the losses incurred thanks to last year’s truncated season, Seidler has backed his rock star GM and helped create a team that can compete with the best in baseball.