How a shortened MLB season in 2020 will effect the San Diego Padres.
With the possibility of a 2020 season looming, it is apparent that there will not be the traditional six divisions baseball fans are used to seeing.
One of the proposals with the most momentum right now is the three-division layout. In this format, the three divisions are the East, Central, and West divisions. Each division is a combination of the given region’s National and American League teams.
Since the San Diego Padres are in the NL West, they will be in the West division if this is the format for the 2020 season. This division includes the NL West and AL West teams.
The playoffs, however, would still be National and American League. The playoffs would include four wild card teams along with the top “typical” NL West team. This fact gives the San Diego Padres a good shot at making the playoffs because seven NL teams will get in instead of the typical five.
The teams that will be in the San Diego Padres division are the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Francisco Giants, the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Colorado Rockies, the Houston Astros, the Texas Rangers, the Los Angeles Angels, the Oakland Athletics, and the Seattle Mariners.
Let’s look at how these teams stack up against the San Diego Padres:
The Los Angeles Dodgers upgraded their team with the biggest acquisition of the offseason, OF Mookie Betts. The Dodgers also added to their bullpen, which always hurt them in the past, with former all-star Blake Treinen and RHP prospect Brusdar Graterol. Los Angeles will undoubtedly be one of the toughest teams in this layout for the San Diego Padres.
The Arizona Diamondbacks surprised a lot of people in 2019 by going 85-77. They also went out and traded for all-star OF Starling Marte and signed LHP Madison Bumgarner. Arizona is one of the most balanced teams in the league, so beating them in a series is going to be a struggle.
The San Francisco Giants outperformed expectations in 2019. After losing Madison Bumgarner, the team will be much younger in 2020, but not expected to compete. This will also be the Giants first year without Bruce Bochy since 2006. If the San Diego Padres want to make the postseason, they will need to take advantage of their opportunities against their rival from the bay.
The Colorado Rockies are always hard to read. Everyone knows they are going to score a lot because of their bats combined with playing in altitude. However, pitching still holds them back. The Rockies have some promising starting pitchers, but Coors Field continues to limit their potential. With the Nolan Arenado fiasco this offseason, his performance, along with a transforming superstar in Trevor Story, will likely carry Colorado again. Padres games in Coors Field are always wild, don’t expect that to change.
The Houston Astros didn’t necessarily go through an ideal offseason. Losing Cy Young Award runner-up along with one of the worst cheating scandals in sports history certainly makes it seem like the Astros will not be as good as they were in the previous years. Still, the Houston Astros will be a tough team with several good hitters and a couple of great pitchers.
The Oakland Athletics are one of the most consistent regular-season teams in the MLB. With back-to-back wild card appearances, the A’s will look to make it three straight in 2020. Similar to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Oakland is a complete team despite not having a superstar player. Winning a series against a complete team like the Athletics is always challenging.
The Texas Rangers flew under the radar last year. The 78-84 Rangers added 2-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber to an already solid rotation with RHP Lance Lynn and LHP Mike Minor. Their lethal lineup, along with excellent starting pitching, can cause some trouble in a shortened season.
The Los Angeles Angels are a very interesting team. Their already good lineup gained Anthony Rendon along with the return of Shohei Ohtani and Tommy La Stella. The starting rotation holds the Angels back every year, but the Angels went out and got some help in the offseason. Shohei Ohtani is expected to return and be the ace, but newly acquired Julio Teheran and Dylan Bundy are upgrades over what they had previously. If the pitching performs near expectations, the Angels will be a very dangerous team in 2020.
The Seattle Mariners are the last team in the San Diego Padres 2020 West division. These two teams are “interleague rivals” and face off almost every year in the Vedder Cup. After a blistering start in 2019, the Mariners fell apart and finished in last place in AL West. With still low expectations, this is a team the Padres can feast on in the West division.
With several teams in the West that are hard to project, the San Diego Padres’ success will come down to them handling the weaker teams and finding ways to sneak out wins against the good teams. The Padres must rely on their getting leads and handing the ball off to the bullpen that General Manager A.J. Preller put a lot of resources into. Wil Myers, Eric Hosmer, and Manny Machado all need to perform better in 2020 to justify their large contracts. Otherwise, they will drag the Padres down.
In a shortened season, the Padres can get away with not having an elite rotation. With tons of depth at pitching, first-year Manager Jayce Tingler can get creative with managing his pitching staff without putting too much of a burden on a rotation with an injury history. A likely addition of designated hitter allows a player like Josh Naylor, Franchy Cordero, or Wil Myers to be in the lineup without hindering the team in the field.
All of this is possible, but only if the season happens. A lot of hurdles need to be cleared in a short amount of time for a season. Most Padres fans are dying to see the new brown uniforms action, and it would be extremely disappointing to have to wait until 2021 for their debut.