After a disappointing 2021, the San Diego Padres are looking to bounce back and compete with the top teams in the NL West.
On January 19, 2021, the San Diego Padres capped off a massive offseason by acquiring starting pitcher Joe Musgrove. Following this acquisition, they had now acquired Musgrove, Blake Snell, and Yu Darvish. Adding these three starters, and pairing them with an offense led by Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado, gave the Padres massive expectations for 2021.
Unfortunately, they were unable to reach these expectations.
In a rotation filled with high-end arms, Musgrove was the only one who consistently pitched well all season. Dinelson Lamet was on and off the field all year, and Snell, Darvish, and Chris Paddack were inconsistent throughout the year.
On the offensive side, there was disappointment as well. Tatis Jr. had another fantastic season, and Machado had another nice year but, beyond the two of them, Jake Cronenworth was the only other to have a really solid season. After a couple of intense early season series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Padres seemed to finally be a worthy NL West opponent for the NL West powerhouse. As the season went on, it was clear the San Francisco Giants were that team, while the Padres struggled to ever get going.
Looking to 2022, the Padres will enter the season with an extremely talented roster, capable of meeting the expectations the 2021 team had. Mike Clevinger will return to the mound, after missing 2021 recovering from Tommy John surgery, and should be a huge add for this team that struggled with starting pitching last year. They also reportedly will sign Nick Martinez, the former Texas Rangers starter who reinvented himself pitching in Japan. His signing is unofficial at the moment, as they were unable to complete the deal before the lockout began.
The two of them join Musgrove, Darvish, and Snell in what will likely be San Diego’s rotation. For depth, they will have Chris Paddack and Ryan Weathers.
A wild card in all of this is Dinelson Lamet. Following a dominant 2020, where he posted a 2.09 ERA with a 2.48 FIP, Lamet figured to be a major piece of the 2021 rotation. After a season full of injuries, it is now unclear what his role will be in 2022. He has all the talent necessary to be one of the best pitchers in the league, but it is a legitimate question whether or not his body can handle starting full time. If he is able to start full time, it will give the Padres rotation a huge boost. Regardless, this is a much deeper group than the Padres opened with last year.
The offense, on the other hand, should improve in 2022. After a disappointing 2021 where they were middle of the pack, the Padres should see some progression next year. While there are still holes to fill, the core of this lineup is really solid.
Fernando Tatis Jr. has established himself as one of the best players in baseball. Manny Machado has continued to produce year after year. Jake Cronenworth followed up a solid 2020 with another solid year last year. Following a disappointing 2021, Trent Grisham is primed for a breakout in 2022. Those four and Austin Nola are likely locked into starting spots, with pieces still to be added.
After a third disappointing year in four seasons with San Diego, the Padres have a decision to make with Eric Hosmer. Tommy Pham is a free agent and the Padres will presumably look to sign an outfielder, and it has been reported that they are involved in the Seiya Suzuki sweepstakes. Wil Myers will likely get the final outfield spot, and is a solid hitter to add depth to the lineup. Jurickson Profar, Ha-Seong Kim, and Victor Caratini all figure to be bench pieces for the team.
While catching the Dodgers and Giants may prove to be tough, the San Diego Padres look built to be in the thick of the playoff race when September approaches. The pitching is deeper than last season, and the offense is healthy. In addition to this, they have brought in a new coaching staff, led by veteran manager Bob Melvin.
While last season was a huge disappointment to a team who viewed themselves as contenders, they have retooled nicely and should be able to compete with the NL’s playoff teams.