San Diego Padres baseball returns this Thursday in Arizona when the Padres open their 2022 season against the Diamondbacks for the third consecutive year.
There are a lot more questions surrounding this team as opposed to the 2021 Padres. That team missed the playoffs.
Here is what the East Village Times team is expecting for this season, with a couple of predictions for positional battles:
What are your expectations for the team this year?
Make a run in the postseason: Matt Wadleigh, James Kenyon, Evan Anderson, and Alex Yeargan
Make the playoffs: Lucas Aguilera, Chris Spiering, Nick Lee, and Kevin Modafferi
Be above .500: Ryan Michel, Dominic Stearn
No writers voted to win the World Series or finish below .500.
Who will be the Padres’ best starting pitcher?
Arguably the strength of the team, there are several established major league arms in the Padres rotation. The group disappointed last year but will be led by new pitching coach Ruben Niebla. Who will be the leader of the group in 2022?
Blake Snell: Evan Anderson, Alex Yeargan, James Clark, and Kevin Modafferi, Lucas Aguilera
Yu Darvish: Nick Lee, Matt Wadleigh, and James Kenyon
Joe Musgrove: Chris Spiering and Dominic Stearn
Who should be the closer?
For the first time in several years, the Padres do not have an established closer entering the season. That doesn’t mean there aren’t good options for the role, however.
Robert Suarez: Evan Anderson, Chris Spiering, and Dominic Stearn
Dinelson Lamet: Alex Yeargan, Nick Lee, James Kenyon, and Lucas Aguilera
Emilio Pagan: Kevin Modafferi
Luis Garcia: Ryan Michel
What are your expectations for Fernando Tatis Jr. when he returns?
Fernando Tatis Jr. will miss the first chunk of the season after undergoing wrist surgery. He developed a reputation of playing well right off the injured list, but this will be his first time beginning the season in the dugout. The play of Tatis Jr. upon returning will play a major part in the team’s success in the latter half of the year. What do we think about Tatis Jr. and what he’ll bring to the padres in 2022?
Fernando Tatis Jr. fractured his wrist during the offseason, A.J. Preller said. He’s headed for a surgery that could come with a recovery time of up to three months.
— Dennis Lin (@dennistlin) March 14, 2022
“I expect him to pick up where he left off. Tatis Jr. will immediately make an impact for this club in all areas of the game. It’s too early to tell how the Padres will do without him, but it’s clear that the team will win more games with him in the lineup. He won’t be eligible for the MVP, but he’ll certainly play like one. If he can stay healthy for the rest of the season after his return, then that will be the best news of all.” – Chris Spiering(@ChrisSpiering)
“He will hit many balls, and they will go far.” – Ryan Michel(@FriarBad)
“I’d expect a slow build-up because wrist injuries are tricky. Then Tatis Jr. will explode as he always does, finishing with an OPS north of .900 and maybe 20-25 homers.” – Nick Lee(@NickLee51)
“A home run on his debut and a slow build-up, but eventually getting back to his top of the order bat and making unreal plays regularly.” – Alex Yeargan(@AlexFromEVT)
“I think Tatis Jr. will be the same superstar we’ve always seen.” – Kevin Modafferi(@KevinModafferi)
“My expectations are tempered for Fernando Tatis Jr. At some point, these injuries are going to catch up in a big way to the young superstar. He’s still going to be one of the best shortstops in baseball and one of the best players on the Padres. I’ll be curious to see if he’s tried in the outfield again because he made his feelings clear about that.” – Dominic Stearn(@dmstearn19)
What will the strength of the team be?
This posed question felt like a softball. All aspects of the team were given, but the answers did not reflect that. Every answer backed the pitching staff, but more specifically, everyone with the exception of Ryan Michel and Lucas Aguilera thinks the starting rotation will carry the Padres. Those two think it’ll be the bullpen.
What will the weakness of the team be?
This is definitely the more difficult question to answer, especially after most facets of the team disappointed in 2021.
“I don’t know that the team currently has enough out of their bench to be sufficient.” – Kevin Modafferi
“The front end of the lineup is solid. But any sort of major injury to one of Machado, Cronenworth, Grisham, or Voit, and it gets really thin really fast behind them. Same goes for the starting rotation.” – Nick Lee
“It was clear and evident last year that there were some players who aren’t what the Padres were expecting. With two true outfielders and a couple of others who can play outfield, I’m concerned, to say the least, with how that situation will unfold. The depth of the rotation looks much better than last year, but the bullpen depth is also a bit concerning.”
“The Padres start the season without their best player. They lack power, and there is still lots of questions on health and productivity.” – Alex Yeargan
“My answer is the lineup because of one name, Eric Hosmer.” – Evan Anderson(@Evanofficial_)
“The Padres lineup was 21st in MLB in slugging last year. An especially horrific mark is the more power-driven modern version of the game. Luke Voit was a great addition, but even at his very best, his bat couldn’t replace the void left by losing Fernando Tatis Jr. for two months of the season. As it stands, this group’s success hinges on nearly half of them turning things around from 2021, which is far from a guarantee.” – Ryan Michel
“There are a lot of unproven guys and inconsistent performers.” – James Kenyon
“I hope I’m wrong on this, but I feel that the bullpen won’t be as dominant this season. Drew Pomeranz went to the 60-day IL, and who knows if he will even pitch any time soon. Emilio Pagan hasn’t looked great this spring, and newly added Luis Garcia is expected to start the season on the IL as well. Robert Suarez could be something, but it’s too early to tell. The combo of Nabil Chrismatt, Austin Adams, and Pierce Johnson don’t make me confident. I expect Tim Hill, however, to pitch as well this season as he did last year. It will be interesting to see if Dinelson Lamet pitches in the bullpen for a majority of the season.” – Chris Spiering
“As always, injuries happen. Do the Padres have the depth to hang around if major injuries come about? Probably not.” – Matt Wadleigh
Who will be the Padres 2022 MVP?
Manny Machado was the obvious answer here, garnering eight votes. Most of the justification involved the injury to Tatis Jr., and while that’s fair, it also sells Machado a little short. Machado has finished in the top-10 of MVP voting four times, and it certainly would have been five in 2018 had he not changed leagues in 2018. There were, however, two opposing answers.
— Giannis Auntiegotapoodle (@TooMuchMortons_) April 2, 2022
Who are you expecting a bounce-back season from?
There are far too many candidates hereafter, seemingly everyone disappointed in 2021. This time, we’ll go by the writer.
Matt Wadleigh: Yu Darvish and Eric Hosmer
Chris Spiering: Blake Snell and Eric Hosmer
James Kenyon: Yu Darvish and Trent Grisham
Ryan Michel: Luke Voit
Nick Lee: Austin Nola and Blake Snell
Evan Anderson: Manny Machado and Blake Snell
Alex Yeargan: “half the lineup,” but more specifically, Trent Grisham
Kevin Modafferi: Trent Grisham
"I didn’t fight through it. I felt like I kind of rolled over. And I feel like that’s one of my best attributes — I’ve always been a fighter. … So it’s really just really getting back to that." https://t.co/tgE1tZfBGE
— Kevin Acee (@sdutKevinAcee) April 2, 2022
Do you expect any Padres to negatively regress?
It has to be asked, especially after asking about bounce-back candidates. The Padres are hoping that the new coaching staff can help limit the inevitable here.
Kevin Modafferi: Wil Myers
Alex Yeargan: Craig Stammen
Evan Anderson: Luis Garcia
Nick Lee: Pierce Johnson
James Kenyon: Joe Musgrove
Matt Wadleigh: Jurickson Profar
What are you most excited for this season?
“I’m now excited to see how the Padres will do without Tatis. If he returns and the Padres are in contention, then there is a lot to look forward to.” – Chris Spiering
“C.J. Abrams and MacKenzie Gore will be superstars. With Abrams, the power was the only thing in question, and so far, he’s flashed very surprising power. With Gore, it was his command, and so far, his command and stuff look better than ever. I expect both of them to make an impact this year.” – Ryan Michel
“I’m looking forward to a full season after the cloudy, gloomy offseason with the lockout. With the pandemic and the lockout, I have a renewed sense of gratitude for the game, win or lose. However, I am also excited to see this starting rotation bloom into what they can be. There are too many studs to not be a top unit. Also, Manny Machado, so long as he is a Padre, will always excite me.” – Nick Lee
“I think this team will be hungry and play with a chip on their shoulder. Everyone in the organization, from coaches to players, to the front office, got embarrassed last season. The team will aim to change that. Tatis’ injury gives extra motivation to be a good position so he can return with a boom.” – Evan Anderson
“Getting baseball back, in general, is exciting. Specifically, MacKenzie Gore’s debut Is what I’m most looking forward to.” – Alex Yeargan
The Padres begin its season Thursday against the Arizona Diamondbacks.