Snow and a high of only 36F are predicted for today here Western New York, but 2670 miles away, in San Diego, California, they’re expecting mostly sunny skies and a high of 84F. Great weather for a ballgame.
The San Diego Padres finished the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season with a remarkable 37-23 record. After defeating the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Wild Card Series, the Padres hit a brick wall when they faced the dastardly Dodger$ in the NLDS. The Padres’ pitching staff was already outmatched by the Blue Bums even before starters Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger went on the disabled list. The Padres’ #1 goal in the offseason was to pick up quality pitching and they did exactly that by signing not one, but two legitimate aces in Blake Snell and Yu Darvish.
The Padres open their 2021 season today at 1PM PT at Petco Park with the first game of a three-game homestand against NL Western Division rivals, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Let’s take a look at the Padres’ projected starters:
Catcher: Austin Nola fractured a finger in Spring Training so newcomer Victor Caratini will get the nod on Opening Day. Promising young blue chipper, Luis Campusano, will also see action during the season.
Infield: The infield is set, to put it mildly, with Eric Hosmer (1B), Jake Cronenworth (2B), Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS), and Manny Machado (3B). Tatis and Machado are easily the best SS/3B tandem in MLB and Tatis is still developing. Cronenworth came close to earning NL Rookie of the Year last season and Hos is a solid vet. Jurickson Profar and newly-acquired Ha-Seong Kim from South Korea will battle for infield playing time and both could start for many ballclubs.
Outfield: Tommy Pham (LF), Trent Grisham (CF), and Wil Myers (RF) will start, but Profar will get significant time at the corners. It was great to see Myers relaunch his once-promising career in 2020 under new skipper, Jayce Tingler. Update: Grisham is on the IL so I expect Profar to man the CF spot in the interim.
Pitching: Aces Snell and Darvish are excellent additions. Dinelson Lamet pitched in one the Padres’ last Spring Training games after rehabilitating his elbow for six months, however, Mike Clevinger won’t be available in 2021 after having offseason Tommy John surgery. Newcomer Joe Musgrove is a very solid #4. As for the #5 spot, young Chris Paddack’s regression remains a mystery after being projected as the franchise’s future ace two years ago. The bullpen has some question marks especially with the vacancy left by closer Kirby Yates. Drew Pomeranz, Emilio Pagán, and Mark Melancon will all vie for the closer spot.
The Padres are VERY sold from top to bottom, although the closer position is a question mark. Most baseball prognosticators are taking the easy route and picking the Dodger$ to take the NL West again, however, they acknowledge that the Padres could easily upset.
Above photo, from left to right: Myers, Machado, Darvish, Snell, Tatis Jr., and Hosmer.