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2021 San Diego Padres: Opening Day Roster Predictions

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The 2021 San Diego Padres are already locked and loaded for next season, as they have made massive moves this offseason, with more possibly on the horizon. Following an explosive offseason including trading for Blake Snell, Yu Darvish, and Joe Musgrove, as well as signing Ha-Seong Kim, Jurickson Profar, Mark Melancon, and Keone Kela, among other moves, the 2021 San Diego Padres will look to make a true run at their first World Series title.

2021 San Diego Padres Opening Day Roster: Starting Rotation

Ace – Yu Darvish

The ace of the Padres’ staff could be either of the trade acquisitions, Yu Darvish or Blake Snell, but Darvish is listed as the ace on most depth charts. In 2020, Darvish’s third season in Chicago, he finished second in Cy Young Award voting and had a 2.01 ERA, 2.23 FIP, 26.6% K-BB%, and 3.14 SIERA. Darvish is entering his age-34 season, but he’s still a great pitcher, and he’ll look to continue his stellar production as he has since the 2019 all-star break.

The Rest of the Rotation – Blake Snell, Dinelson Lamet, Joe Musgrove, Chris Paddack

Mike Clevinger will miss 2021 with Tommy John surgery, but they 2021 San Diego Padres still have one of the best rotations in the league. Snell, the ace of the 2020 AL Champion Rays and 2018 Cy Young Award winner, has a 2.85 ERA, 3.27 FIP, 23% K-BB%, and 3.43 SIERA since 2018. Although his lack of innings (only 337.2 in 65 starts) is worrisome, it is yet to be known how if Snell will adjust to throwing more innings, as he has struggled facing batters for the 3rd time throughout his career.

The two home-grown arms in the rotation, Dinelson Lamet and Chris Paddack, will return once again in 2021. Lamet broke out in 2020, with a 2.09 ERA, 2.48 FIP, 27.3% K-BB%, and 3.16 SIERA. The 28-year-old has been able to pair his fastball velocity and devastating slider to become better than anyone ever expected and is a great 3rd starter for the Padres next year. Chris Paddack came up in 2019 and had a great year, but struggled in 2020. In his career, he has a 3.74 ERA, 4.27 FIP, 20.7% K-BB%, and 3.87 SIERA. Next year, Paddack has a lot to prove, especially with Clevinger likely returning.

Joe Musgrove was one of the best pitchers on the trade market this offseason, and although he has had a 4.23 ERA since being traded to Pittsburgh in 2018, he has much better peripherals, with a 17.1% K-BB%, and 4.06 SIERA, and is coming off the best season of his career in 2020.

2021 San Diego Padres Opening Day Roster: The Bullpen

Emilio Pagan, Drew Pomeranz, Mark Melancon, Keone Kela, Craig Stammen, Pierce Johnson, Austin Adams, Adrian Morejon, Tim Hill

The Padres have more options, including Jay Guerra and Dan Altavilla, but these 9 guys are likely options to be members of the bullpen on opening day. Pagan, Pomeranz, Melancon and Kela are all nearly certain to be in the bullpen, and the rest will be solid options for Jayce Tingler next season. Some of these guys may not be on the opening day roster, but they are definitely MLB-caliber pitchers and will surely fight for a spot in spring training.

2021 San Diego Padres Opening Day Roster: Starting Lineup

Outfield: Trent Grisham, Tommy Pham, Wil Myers

For now, the 2021 San Diego Padres outfield includes Wil Myers in right, Trent Grisham in center, and Tommy Pham in left. Myers had the best year of his career in 2020, when he had a 154 wRC+, 1.9 WAR, and .330 OBP in 218 PAs (55 games). Grisham had a breakout year in 2020 after being traded from Milwaukee following his infamous error in the 2019 Wild Card game. Pham had been great from 2017-19, when he had a 133 wRC+, .381 OBP, 13.7 WAR, and 1754 PAs, and in 2020, he missed a lot of time with injuries, but he played well in their short playoff run.

Infield: Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, Eric Hosmer, Jake Cronenworth

The left side of the 2021 San Diego Padres’ infield is among the best of the league entering 2021. Young phenom Fernando Tatis Jr. backed up his 2019 rookie season with an even better 2020, as he had a 149 wRC+, 2.9 WAR, and significantly improved his defense while making himself an MVP candidate. There’s next to nothing to worry about with Tatis Jr., as he is undoubtedly one of the best young players in the league. Manny Machado was also an MVP candidate in 2020, as he had a 149 wRC+, 2.6 WAR, along with his always-great defense.

The right side is less set in stone, as Eric Hosmer and Jake Cronenworth both had great years in 2020, but don’t have the same track record and expectations of Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado. Hosmer was a negative-WAR player in 2018 and 2019, but he had a 127 wRC+ in 2020. He’s also not a great defender, so Hosmer needs to keep up his offensive production in 2021. Cronenworth is a great player, and had a 125 wRC+, .356 wOBA, and 1.4 WAR, and has plenty of versatility in the field.

Catcher: Austin Nola

The 2021 San Diego Padres’ catchers are Austin Nola and Victor Caratini, but Nola will be the primary starter for the Friars. Nola was a late bloomer, and made his MLB debut at 29, but has been a great offensive catcher since being called up. In his 127 MLB games, Nola has a 119 wRC+, 3.2 WAR, and 2.4 FRM. There is still a little concern, as he was never a top prospect and came out of nowhere, but the 2021 San Diego Padres also have Victor Caratini, a reliable back-up catcher on their roster.

2021 San Diego Padres Opening Day Roster: Bench

Jurickson Profar, Ha-Seong Kim, Victor Caratini

There are plenty of options for other bench spots, but Profar, Kim, and Caratini will surely be on the roster. Although both infielders by trade, Profar and Kim will both be used as utility options and get some time in the infield and the outfield. They were both signed to multi-year contracts, so they’ll definitely be on the roster and get some playing time as back-ups/platoon options. Caratini is a solid back-up catcher and was Yu Darvish’s personal catcher in Chicago, which may be how he is used in 2021.

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Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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