2021 Padres Predictions: Dodgers Will Have Their Hands Full

While some writers are still struggling to forecast what their favorite team will be doing, the 2021 Padres predictions almost write themselves.

What a phenomenal season the San Diego Padres had in 2020. 60 games was a very small sample size of their emergence in the National League West, but if you watched a Padres game this year, you can tell something is brewing in San Diego and the excitement was on full display during every game.

The Padres brought the excitement all year long, but notably by hitting a lot of grand slams. After setting an MLB record by hitting a grand slam in four consecutive games, “Slam Diego” was born and the team did not stop there, continuing on to have an unforgettable season.

2021 Padres Predictions: Reflecting Back on the 2020 Season

First-year manager Jayce Tingler, who took over after the firing of Andy Green, was able to show he was worthy of the opportunity to lead the Padres and he did not disappoint. The weird part is, Jayce Tingler just came out of nowhere. The Padres finished 2020 with a 37-23 record, a tune of .617 winning percentage, and just six games behind the Dodgers in the NL West. The Padres nailed down a coveted NL Wild Card spot to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

In the NL Wild Card round, they faced a familiar foe in the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals have had the Padres’ number in the playoffs, eliminating them in 1996, 2005, and 2006, as previously mentioned, their last appearance in the playoffs. With timely hitting, featuring monster games from Wil Myers and the ever-exciting Fernando Tatis Jr., the Padres were able to take the exciting three-game series from the Cardinals and move onto the National League Division Series versus, you guessed it… the hated Dodgers.

Key injuries to the top of the rotation starters Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet left the Padres short-handed on the mound. The veteran presence and postseason experience of the Dodgers were too much for the Padres to overcome and Los Angeles was able to sweep the series in three games and moved on to the World Series and defeat the Tampa Bay Rays in six games, marking their first World Series win since 1988.

2021 Padres Predictions: Lineup and Rotation Projections 

Time to look at the 2021 Padres predictions for the upcoming roster and lineup. Fast forward to the offseason where the Padres have been making an extreme amount of noise with some power moves to narrow the talent gap between themselves and the Dodgers. Padres General Manager AJ Preller has been nothing short of outstanding with his methodical trades this off-season. Let’s take a look at the additions:

The Additions

The Losses: 

  • RHP Zach Davies, 7-4 2.73 ERA and key member of 2020 starting rotation
  • RHP Luis Patiño, 2021 projected middle to backend starter for SD
  • C Francisco Mejía, switch-hitting catcher, playing 116 games over three seasons for Padres, never hitting better than .265

The Prospects:

  • C Blake Hunt, 2nd Round pick in 2017 but never made it past Single-A
  • RHP Cole Wilcox, 3rd Round pick in 2020 out of University of Georgia
  • OF Owen Caissie, 2nd Round pick in 2020 out of high school
  • OF Ismael Mena, signed to minor league contract in 2019 out of the Dominican Republic
  • SS Reginald Preciado, signed to minor league contract in 2019 out of Panama
  • SS Yeison Santana, signed to minor league contract in 2017 but never made it past Rookie ball

GM AJ Preller did a fantastic job to keep top of the line prospects safe in these trades for the two aces in Snell and Darvish. Zach Davies was a veteran arm that was a role player in the rotation and Mejia never quite panned out after being acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Indians in 2018. 

Besides, Blake Hunt, the prospects have not seen minor league baseball action as of yet, so the jury is still out on their future, although Blake Hunt seems to have great upside. Acquiring Victor Caratini will most likely be fruitful for the Padres since he is a switch-hitter and can go versus righties with Austin Nola hitting versus lefties if Tingler sees fit. Caratini will catch Darvish, there’s no doubt about that. Having a veteran catcher with pinch-hitting options off the bench late in games will be a good problem to have for skipper Jayce Tingler.

Now let’s take a look at a projected line-up and starting rotation:

The Potential Lineup

CF Grisham 

SS Tatis

3B Machado

LF Pham

1B Hosmer

RF Myers

C Nola/Caratini

2B Kim

P

Synopsis: There are a lot of unknowns with where Ha-Seong Kim bats, his speed, and base running skills, so for now his projections are to hit at the bottom of the lineup. With the success of the Padres in 2020, it will be hard to supplant Trent Grisham, Tatis, and Manny Machado from the top of the lineup but he gets the nod over last year’s rookie sensation Jake Cronenworth, for now.

The Starting Rotation

Blake Snell

Yu Darvish

Dinelson Lamet

Chris Paddack

Adrian Morejon

Synopsis: Blake Snell and Yu Darvish were brought to San Diego for one reason and one reason only… to be the face of this rotation in 2021.

The nod on Opening Day goes to Snell as the true ace of this staff. There are plenty of power arms in the bullpen for Tingler to choose from but this is how it should look, especially with Mike Clevinger being out for 2021.

Lamet had a monster break out season evening getting bids for the Cy Young behind Trevor Bauer and new teammate Darvish, but with these additions from the trade deadline and the winter, Lamet and “The Sherriff” Paddack will anchor down the backend of the rotation along with Adrian Morejon. Morejon, a fire-baller who showed promise going 2-2 in four starts with 25 strikeouts in 19.1 innings last year before being roughed up by the Dodgers in the NLDS. 

This is a fantastic starting rotation no matter where you put them in order. One last thing… top-notch prospect MacKenzie Gore most likely needs another year in the minors to polish up his arsenal of pitches before getting his first look at the majors but his name has been in the mix for the 2021 rotation as well. 

The Final 2021 Padres Predictions: Tying it All Together

Never have expectations and anticipation of a new San Diego Padres season been so high going into the next year. The rebuild truly started with the signing of Eric Hosmer in 2018, then the signing of Manny Machado, and the emergence of “El Nino” Fernando Tatis Jr. in 2019.

This foundation has been set to alter a losing culture into a winning franchise in a very short time. The city of San Diego is buzzing about the new additions at the 2020 trade deadline, a playoff run, and now explosive free agent signings that are filling the airwaves and newspapers with Padres news and updates. It has been decades since that feeling has been in the city and a first for Petco Park.  

The Padres will follow suit of a winning season with another banner year in San Diego. A 99-63 is the prediction in 2021 for the Padres, still slightly behind those Dodgers, but the gap has been narrowed.

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Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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Joey Quiroga
Joey Quiroga is the native son of Tucson, Arizona. A MONSTER Arizona Wildcat and San Diego Padres fan currently residing in beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada. Joey spent 22 years in the world's greatest Air Force, recently retiring from active duty service in September of 2020. Joey has traveled the world, lived in Portugal, Guam, Japan, and Italy. Former junior college goalkeeper with a wealth of sports knowledge, and ready to share with the masses.

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