NL West Espionage: Padres vs. San Francisco Giants

Oct 4, 2022; San Diego, California, USA; San Diego Padres shortstop Ha-Seong Kim (right) forces out San Francisco Giants right fielder Mike Yastrzemski (5) at second base before throwing to first base during the eighth inning at Petco Park. Kim was charged with an error on the throw. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Ahead of the 2023 season, we will preview each of the Padres’ rivals in the National League West. The San Francisco Giants had a whirlwind offseason. How do the Padres match up with San Francisco?

2022 recap

Coming off of a franchise record 107 wins in 2021, the world watched to see if they could duplicate their amazing run of success. While they didn’t bottom out completely in 2022, they were a far cry from the team that was the No. 1 seed in the National League the year prior. The Giants began showing their age, getting less than 90 games from both Evan Longoria and Brandon Belt. Only one hitter cracked 20 home runs. Their bullpen was, at times, unreliable, ranking 20th in reliever ERA.

Carlos Rodon and Logan Webb turned into one of the best one-two punches atop the starting rotation in the game. However, there was a large drop-off after that duo. While the Giants had talent, their age and lack of elite depth caught up with them. They needed a big surge in September to even reach .500. They were as many as eight games below .500 in mid-September. They finished 81-81.

Padres record vs. Giants in 2022: 13-6

Notable losses

Brandon Belt

Tommy La Stella

Zack Littell

Evan Longoria

Carlos Rodon

Notable additions

Michael Conforto

Mitch Haniger

Sean Manaea

Taylor Rogers

Ross Stripling

2023 outlook

The Giants could have looked dramatically different had a few things broken their way. The reigning AL MVP Aaron Judge turned down the Giants after initial reports suggested Judge was headed to the Bay Area. He opted to stay in New York. Then, the Giants got even farther with star shortstop Carlos Correa. However, due to concerns with his health report, the Giants backed out.

That’s two genuine superstars that could have been wearing Giants black and orange this year but will not.

However, that doesn’t mean they did not have a solid offseason. Their outfield will not lack on power, with Haniger and Conforto joining forces with Joc Pederson and Mike Yastrzemski. The biggest change is going from franchise cornerstone Brandon Belt, who is now in Toronto, to LaMonte Wade Jr. at first base. While he’s definitely more athletic than your average first baseman, he has a career .231 average with just 28 home runs over parts of four seasons.

The rotation took the biggest hit with the departure of Rodon. However, Logan Webb is blossoming into a legitimate ace. Alex Cobb was serviceable. The Padres are familiar with the ups and downs of Sean Manaea and reliever Taylor Rogers, who is reunited with his twin brother Tyler.

They also have some exciting young talent like catcher Joey Bart. Thairo Estrada is coming off of a career year in his first full season of major league action.

Overall, the Giants look like a team who can punch their away above .500 and perhaps into the NL Wild Card discussion.

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How the Padres match up 

The Padres performed well against their rivals from the Bay in 2022. Even with playing them six less times this season, these games will be crucial. While the Padres and Dodgers are the assumed cream of the crop in the NL West, the Giants are likely grumpy after how things went last year for a normally successful franchise and will be eager to put it behind them with a great 2023. Webb will be a handful when he faces the Padres. He dominated the Friars in three starts last year, allowing just two earned runs in 21 1/3 innings (0.83 ERA) while striking out 16 and walking just two.

After that, the Padres should be able to handle the rotation. Familiarity will help when facing Manaea. None of Stripling, Cobb, or Alex Wood strike fear into the hearts of Padres hitters. The likes of Juan Soto, Manny Machado, Xander Bogaerts, and eventually, Fernando Tatis Jr. should be able to give this pitching staff fits.

While the Giants don’t have the pure star power of the Padres’ lineup (who does?), they have their share of quality hitters. Pederson absolutely tortured the Padres last year to the tune of a 1.027 OPS. Shortstop Brandon Crawford is just two years removed from an All-Star and Gold Glove season that saw him finish fourth in NL MVP voting. However, he dropped off significantly last season. Now with Bogaerts and Tatis, the Padres have two shortstops on their roster who are better on paper.

The Giants will likely take their pounds of flesh from the Padres, especially when Webb takes the mound. However, the Padres are deeper in the rotation and the lineup. The Giants will be pesky and maybe even contend in the Wild Card. However, even if things look close between the two teams at the beginning, the talent and depth of San Diego should begin to show as the summer heats up.

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