Over this past weekend, the Dodgers got their first chance to play the San Diego Padres since Manny Machado signed the 10-year $300 million contract, and since the Padres called up two of their top prospects. The Dodgers took two of the three games from the Padres, however the games were a lot closer than they should have been, and for the most part the Padres were able to hold their own. Here are three reasons why I think the Padres will challenge the Dodgers the most over the next few seasons.
Image: Austin Barnes scores vs the Padres / Photo Credit: Dodgerblue.com
- The Padres can hit
During each of the three games, the Padres proved they could keep up with the Dodgers when it comes to scoring runs. In each of the three games, the Padres were tied with or held a lead into the sixth inning of each of the games. While the team average is lower than most MLB teams, the Padres sit just four total home runs behind the Dodgers, so in terms of power they are right there. Plus the Padres showed that they can play small ball as well. During the 9th inning of Sunday’s game, the Padres dropped back to back bunts to beat the shift versus Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. They ended up loading the bases and later winning on a Hunter Renfroe walk off grand slam.
Image: Hunter Renfroe celebrates hitting a walk off grand slam vs Kenley Jansen / Photo Credit: FriarWire.com
The Padres are a young team so it may take some time for them to really hit their stride, but when healthy, their 1-9 in their line up has the potential to be pretty dang good. Everyone has heard of Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer and what they’re capable of at the plate, but other players like Franmil Reyes, Fernando Tatis jr and Hunter Renfroe can also really swing it. The line-up features a good balance of speed, power, and average that proved over the weekend that they can hit the Dodger pitching fairly well.
Image: Fernando Tatis at bat vs the Nationals / Photo Credit: BleacherReport.com
- Padres manager Andy Green
The Padres hired Andy Green during the 2016 offseason after Green had spent just one year as a major league coach. While he is still considered a “young guy” in terms of MLB managers, Green has already built a reputation as a winning coach during his time as a manager in the minor leagues winning. He is the only manager in the history of the Southern League to win manager of the year in back to back seasons, (2013-2014). So far in his two years at the helm of the Padres, Green has compiled a 216-288 record (.429 winning percentage). Green is here for the long haul and the Padres were willing to be patient with Green as long as he could be patient with them for the first few years. Now in his third full season, the Padres have finally given Green some decent tools to work with on the field and the team is confident that Green can lead the Padres to their first playoff appearance in 12 years.
Image: Padres manager Andy Green / Photo Credit: GaslampBall.com
- The Padres pitching is for real
So far whats impressed me most with the Padres is their pitching. Coming into this season, the Padres had 10 of the top 100 prospects in all of baseball and seven of the ten prospects were pitchers. So far this year, the Padres currently hold the third best team ERA in all of baseball (3.54 ERA), and they lead the league in saves with 16. Kirby Yates is throwing the ball as well as any closer in baseball and tied the MLB record for most saves in the first month of a season with 14 in the month of April. Padres #5 prospect Chris Paddock has shined the first month of the year and is looking like a possible ace in the making while pitchers like Nick Margevicius and Matt Strahm have shown they can be reliable pieces in a five man rotation.
Image: Padres Rookie Pitcher Chris Paddock / Photo Credit: AP News
The one thing the Padres are missing on their staff is a reliable and proven number one on their staff to help guide these young pitchers and to show them how they can succeed at the major league level. If the Padres could sign a guy like Dallas Keuchel (2015 Cy Young winner and 2017 World Champion) to their team, this staff could be one that nobody in the NL wants to face for the new few years.
Image: Dallas Keuchel pitching for the Astros in the 2017 World Series / Photo Credit: KSAT.com
What NL West team do you think is better set for the future? Who is the better team now? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think. Also check out The History Of on the Bleav podcast network, hosted by me Wolfie Tash, for great sports stories like this. Thanks for reading!