While it’s barely two weeks into the regular season, the San Diego Padres are in the midst of three straight series that have serious playoff implications, all of which could be eventual playoff previews. On a seven-game East Coast road trip, the Padres took three of four games against the Atlanta Braves (who are the current favorite to win the National League), before heading up to Queens to face off against the New York Mets, a team after San Diego’s own heart when it comes to spending big to try and bring in a championship.
The Friars weren’t quite so lucky in the Big Apple, dropping two of three games in the midweek series. After the Mets took the series in the decisive third game, however, right fielder Juan Soto made a puzzling admission.
Rather than wanting to win each individual series, Soto said he was satisfied with the team’s results given their overall winning record on the gauntlet of a road trip they’d faced.
“The last game, we wanted to win it,” Soto said after the final loss to the Mets. “But it is what it is. At the end of the day, you look at what we did — we played against two of the best teams in the NL and we won four out of seven. That’s a good sign.”
On the face of it, Soto isn’t wrong: a winning record on the road against some of the best teams in the league speaks well to the team’s ability to hang tough when the games really start to matter. That said, it’s not the sort of mindset one wants to hear from a young, star player, especially when Soto has struggled since the Padres acquired him at the trade deadline last August. He’s hitting .189 to begin the season and, while he still draws walks at a record pace (as evidenced by his .338 on base percentage) the Padres want more out of a player who could be in line for the next massive extension they hand out.
While they’ve never managed a World Series championship in franchise history (as just about any fan of the team is painfully aware), this season is as good a chance as any for that streak to end. General Manager A. J. Preller has built a powerhouse in recent years, handing out massive contracts to superstars like Manny Machado, Xander Bogaerts, and the enigmatic Fernando Tatís Jr. (who is nearing a return from his 80-game suspension for a failed PED test) while also spinning blockbuster trades for players like Blake Snell and Soto. Thanks to Preller’s wheeling and dealing, the Padres have the sixth-best odds of winning it all this season, listed at +1000 at several Sportsbooks. Be sure to use a BetMGM Bonus Code if you bet on the Padres (or any other team or sport) to maximize your chances of winning big.
Despite all their talent, the Padres currently sit in third place in the NL West division with a 7-8 record and would be left on the outside looking in if the playoffs were to begin today. Luckily for them, it’s still a very long season (and they’re about to get an MVP-caliber reinforcement in Tatís).Here’s a look at what’s gone right (and wrong) through the first couple of weeks of the Padres’ season.
The most exciting thing for the Padres has to be Tatís’ impending return. He went 5-for-6 with three home runs, a double, and eight RBI on Thursday in a rehab assignment for the El Paso Chihuahuas, San Diego’s Triple-A affiliate.
For a player returning from injury who’d already missed more than a year (and had to deal with the scrutiny of a PED suspension), a return to form for Tatís—even at the minor league level—is incredibly encouraging.
In fairness, the Padres have had a brutal start to the season as the schedule goes. In addition to the aforementioned Mets’ and Braves’ series, they’re in the midst of a four-game set with the Milwaukee Brewers, who lead the NL Central and have been one of the best teams in the National League to start. That gauntlet won’t last forever, and if the Padres can stay afloat against the cream of the crop early on, it’ll be easier to stack wins against lesser competition as the season wears on.
They’ve also been without pitcher Joe Musgrove since the end of February when he broke his toe. He threw a bullpen session on Friday, and will make at least one rehab start in the minors before rejoining the big league club. The hometown kid is one of the best pitchers in the Padres’ potent (but inconsistent) rotation, and getting him back in the fold by the end of the month will do wonders for San Diego.
Harry Aston is a technology writer with a Master’s in Computer Science from MIT. He has over 5 years experience simplifying complex tech topics like AI. His writing makes emerging technologies accessible for mainstream readers. Harry aims to educate people on AI’s potential to improve society.