Are the San Diego Padres a postseason Cinderella … not exactly

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 15: San Diego Padres fans celebrate after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 in game four of the National League Division Series at PETCO Park on October 15, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 15: San Diego Padres fans celebrate after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 in game four of the National League Division Series at PETCO Park on October 15, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The baseball community felt the clock struck midnight for the San Diego Padres after Philadelphia Phillies left-handed slugger Bryce Harper stroked an opposite-field two-run home run that punched his team’s ticket to the World Series.

The timing could not have come at a worst time. The Padres season came to a screeching halt. Now, the Friar Faithful fear the promising future seen during the team’s spirited postseason run could slowly drift away this offseason. The logic is valid but not exactly true for the current state of the Padres.

Hot Stove League is Around The Corner

November is the time in the baseball calendar year when front offices evaluate their entire organization. General managers, scouts, managers and coaches from every level gather to give their opinions on each minor and major league player.

Suddenly, marginal prospects become top rookie candidates to battle for a major league roster spot in spring training. Offseason trade and free agent targets are ranked as the hot stove league begins shortly after the conclusion of the World Series. It is safe to say the squad that left the visitor’s locker room on that faithful Sunday in Philadelphia will be quite different on Opening Day next season.

2022 San Diego Padres Regular Season Struggles

It is important to take the entire 2022 season into perspective. The Padres are a bit of an enigma. The fans and press marvel at Padres general manager A.J. Preller’s ability to control the narrative at the trade deadline. He acquired Juan Soto, Josh Bell, Brandon Drury and Josh Hader in separate deals. It was not hard to imagine these additions to the mix would make the Friars a bonafide postseason contender.

Instead, the team was way too inconsistent for their own good. At times, Padres looked like a team incapable of losing who suddenly forgot how to play baseball. All of the flailing and misplay allowed the Los Angeles Dodgers to pad their Western Division lead from 3.5 games on July 1st to a whopping 22 games at the end of September.

The window to securing a postseason berth became narrower after each deflating loss. If the Friars continued to sleepwalk through September, the odds were good for them to be home for the postseason. Instead, the team awoke from their slumber to secure a wild card berth.

No one should overlook the fact that the Padres had a successful postseason run. The team defeated two one-hundred-win teams (New York Mets and Dodgers) before losing a tough NLCS to the Phillies.

The Friar Faithful does not have to worry when looking in the mirror. The team’s foundation is strong with a need for a few changes.

Friars Offensive Production Woes

The Padres lineup consist of an elite top-of-the-order that was negated by the futility of the bottom three batters. The offense was handicapped by injuries to Fernando Tatis Jr. and Wil Myers and the season-long slump of Trent Grisham and Austin Nola. Thus, the Padres inconsistent offensive production prolong losing streaks.

The Friars need more runners in scoring position when Jurickson Profar, Manny Machado and Soto are at-bat. Each is better than average hitter who can upgrade their production numbers with more scoring opportunities during their plate appearances. A deeper batting order will force opposing pitchers to pitch to Profar, Machado and Soto.

Padres Need to Improve Back of Rotation

The Padres top three starters (Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove and Blake Snell) are trustworthy, reliable pitchers. Each provided quality starts down the stretch that secured a wild-card berth to the postseason.

However, there were legitimate concerns with Mike Clevinger as the rotation’s fourth starter. Granted, his steady regression during the regular season might have been due to fatigue from his recovery of Tommy John surgery following the 2020 playoffs. But this season’s condensed postseason schedule required teams to rely heavily on their fourth starter than ever before.

Clevinger’s two postseason starts were unacceptable and put the Friars in dire straits that became hard to overcome. Red flags were raised with his inability to avoid contact in the first inning of both starts. Clevinger failed to miss bats because he could not throw his fastball for strikes. Careerwise, Clevinger’s playoff numbers show a low strikeout rate and a high ERA. And 2022 was the norm and not the exception.

2023 critical for Tatis. dark. Next

The San Diego Padres were considered a good team that would have their flaws exposed in the postseason. But that was not the case. Now, if the Friars make the right player moves, they could remain baseball’s feel-good story in 2023.