Friday, March 22, 2019

San Diego Padres 2019 season preview

Kirby Yates


             The San Diego Padres entered 2019 with the league's best farm system. Then, they arguably added a top 10 player in baseball, Manny Machado, giving him a $300 million contract. The Padres enter 2019 brighter than ever. They have a set infield, a crowded outfield, and two good catchers. If they can figure out their pitching, they can be a very good team in the years to come.

              Offseason additions: SS/3B Manny Machado, INF Ian Kinsler, RHP Adam Warren, LHP Aaron Loup, INF Greg Garcia, OF Boog Powell, LHP Sammy Solis, RHP Garrett Richards

              Offseason subtractions: SS Freddy Galvis, 3B Christian Villanueva, LHP Clayton Richard, UT Cory Spangenberg, INF Carlos Asuaje, C AJ Ellis, RHP Walker Lockett

              Rotation
The Padres don't have one certain starting pitcher. Their innings leader last year, Clayton Richard, who didn't even qualify for the ERA title (158.2 innings), was dealt to Toronto. That leaves Joey Lucchesi as the top pitcher. Lucchesi had a 4.08 ERA with 145 strikeouts in 130 innings last year, at age 25. The Padres had 13 pitchers make a start last year, though four won't return, and two more will miss time with injury. The Padres thought they were adding a starter when they signed Garrett Richards, only to have him undergo Tommy John surgery before the season. Robbie Erlin, who made 39 appearances, including 12 starts, could be in place for a spot. So could Eric Lauer, a 24 year old who made 23 starts last year. Chris Paddack, who is 23 years of age, has done nothing but dominate in the minors and in Spring Training, his performance in the latter being why he'll make the rotation. Matt Strahm, who was very good last year in the bullpen and made five starts, seems to have won a rotation spot over Bryan Mitchell. That would leave the Padres with four left handed starters. Mitchell could still make some starts this season.

                 Bullpen
The Padres surprisingly had a very good bullpen last year, even after trading top two relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber at the deadline. After that trade, Kirby Yates moved to the closer role, making 12 saves and finished with a 2.14 ERA. He also had a 12.9 K/9 rate. Craig Stammen, who is getting up there in age, had a sub-3.00 ERA in 79 innings last year. The Padres signed Adam Warren, who has been good in his career, excluding a 2016 Cubs stint. Phil Maton returns, but he struggled with a 4.37 ERA last year. Robert Stock was successful in a short period of time last season. Lefty Jose Castillo and righty Brett Kennedy are both injured, opening up spots. One could go to Trey Wingenter, who came to the team and was decent in '18. Or, Aaron Loup could get that spot. Loup is a lefty that has played with Toronto and Philadelphia in his career. Bryan Mitchell will be in the bullpen if not starting. Luis Perdomo will be in the bullpen after a failed 2018.

                 Catching
In the Hand and Cimber trade, the Padres received Francisco Mejia. Mejia, the top catching prospect in baseball, could either open the season in AAA or be the backup catcher. That is because the team trusts Austin Hedges, who hit 14 home runs last year.

                  Infield
The Padres made a splash last offseason, signing first baseman Eric Hosmer. So far, Hosmer has been a failure, hitting just .253 with 18 home runs and a weak .720 OPS. The team signed veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler, who has played in the last 13 years and won the World Series last year. Shortstop prospect Luis Urias will start the season with the team. Machado is a natural shortstop who switched to third base until last season, where he went back to short. He'll play third in San Diego. He has hit at least 33 home runs in each of the last four seasons, including 37 last year.

                  Outfield
The Padres have a very crowded outfield. But, it will be easier to make decisions now because of an injury to Travis Jankowski. Wil Myers was moved from first to left when Hosmer was signed, and was supposed to play third base this year, but Machado prevents that. He had a very bad 2018, rattled by injuries. Manuel Margot isn't good offensively, and hasn't gotten past 20 stolen bases yet. Hunter Renfroe hit a team leading 26 home runs last year. Right fielder Franmil Reyes slugged 16 home runs in 87 games last campaign, but won't be a starter to start.
 
                   Bench
The Padres don't have a serviceable backup catcher, so it will likely be Mejia, unless they think Chris Stewart can still backup. Greg Garcia is the backup infielder, with Reyes and Franchy Cordero as reserve outfielders.

                    Lineup
2B Ian Kinsler
3B Manny Machado
1B Eric Hosmer
LF Wil Myers
RF Hunter Renfroe
C Austin Hedges
CF Manuel Margot
SS Luis Urias

                    Rotation
Joey Lucchesi (L)
Eric Lauer (L)
Matt Strahm (L)
Chris Paddack (R)
Robbie Erlin (L)

                    Bullpen
Kirby Yates (R)
Craig Stammen (R)
Adam Warren (R)
Phil Maton (R)
Robert Stock (R)
Bryan Mitchell (R)
Aaron Loup (L)
Luis Perdomo (R)

                      Bench
C Francisco Mejia
INF Greg Garcia
OF Franchy Cordero
OF Franmil Reyes

                      Additional Information
Ballpark: Petco Park
Manager: Andy Green
GM: AJ Preller
World Series Championships: 0
2018 record: 66-96

                     Steal of the Decade
In 2016, the Padres had James Shields on their team. Shields had a 4.28 ERA so far that season, and with a big contract that would end after 2018. The Padres unloaded some of the cash to the White Sox for Erik Johnson and a prospect named Fernando Tatis Jr. Johnson let up 20 runs in 19.1 innings for the Padres after the trade, and never would play again in the MLB. Tatis Jr. has developed into one of the best prospects in baseball, currently ranked by MLB.com as the second best. We could see Tatis Jr. in 2019, and he heads a strong San Diego farm system. Meanwhile, Shields had a 5.31 ERA in parts of three seasons for Chicago.

                       Prediction
The Padres are a young team. They added a star in Machado, but they still have a weak rotation and their bullpen is a work in progress. The Padres are likely to finish near the bottom of the NL West in 2019.

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