The 2020 regular season will end with a playoff appearance by the San Diego Padres.
For the first time since the 2006 season, the San Diego Padres have secured a place in the MLB postseason.
This snaps a 13-year drought of falling just short, Matt Holiday of the Rockies not touching home plate, and years upon years of rebuilding.
That strong Padres team from 2006 wanted to add to their string of two straight playoff appearances and make it a three.
In 2007, they nearly completed the trifecta as San Diego and Rockies were tied for the NL wildcard spot (at this time, there was only one wildcard spot). A one-game tiebreaker was played to decide who would be in the playoffs for the NL.
This game 163 pushed into the 13th inning with the Rockies at-bat in a tie game. Matt Holiday scored one of the infamous runs in Padres history. The play at the plate resulted in what looked like Holiday failing to touch the plate. The home plate umpire, however, ruled that he did touch the plate, and with no replay, the game was over. To this day, many Padre fans adamantly believe he never touched home.
The next close finish came in 2010 when the Padres fell two games behind the division-winning Giants and one game behind the Braves for the Wild Card slot.
After that 2010 push, it had been all downhill for the Padres.
In that time frame, the Padres finished last in the division four times and never once got within 16 games of a second-place finish. A.J. Preller tried to make a sudden playoff push in 2015 when he made many large acquisitions including Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Derek Norris, and James Shields. That team nosedived, and Preller quickly started the most recent rebuilding process.
That rebuild provided a lot of the assets currently on the team. Fernando Tatis Jr. was famously acquired from the White Sox for James Shields. Chris Paddack was traded from the Marlins in exchange for Fernando Rodney, and the Padres were on their way.
Preller added Eric Hosmer and Manny Machado through free agency in back-to-back seasons. Jake Cronenworth, Trent Grisham, and Zach Davies were all acquired in trades this past offseason, which helped in production. This team is built with the watchful eyes of A.J. Preller.
This 60-game season has heightened the importance of every game for the Padres. While playoffs have been expanded, the Padres are currently the second-best team in the National League with six more games left to play.
Pitching has been a strength of the 2020 Padres. The starting rotation has five great options with Dinelson Lamet, Mike Clevinger, Zach Davies, Chris Paddack, and Garrett Richards. The bullpen has gone from a significant asset to a massive liability, then back to a significant asset all in the timeframe of this shortened season. Even with the absence of Kirby Yates, who made the first-ever All-MLB team in 2019, the Padres bullpen has held its own down the stretch. Drew Pomeranz and Trevor Rosenthal filled Yate’s shoes nicely and have provided a strong 8th and 9th inning duo for the Padres.
This team has stepped up on their own this year.
Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. are well within contention to bring the first MVP trophy to San Diego since Ken Caminiti did so in 1996. Dinelson Lamet is making the strongest Cy Young case since Jake Peavy won in the 2007 award. Jake Cronenworth came over as the “B Side” of the Tommy Pham trade. He has shown that he deserved more recognition and is the front runner for NL Rookie of the Year. Wil Myers is in line to receive the NL Comeback Player of the Year, and if he keeps it up might receive some MVP votes himself.
A common theme with this team is that A.J. Preller acquired almost every player making a difference since he joined in 2014. Dinelson Lamet is the only significant player on the Padres roster that Preller did not acquire since becoming the general manager in late 2014.
After a long time and a lot of patience, Padre fans get to watch their team in the playoffs this year.