The Padres open the season Thursday night in Arizona, kicking off a 7-game road trip that will take them from Phoenix to San Francisco, before they come home to face the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves.
We know lots about the Friars. The starting rotation may be as good as anyone else, including the Dodgers. The bullpen is deep.
There will be no Fernando Tatis till at least till July and who knows how his surgically repaired wrist holds up, considering the power and torque he puts on that wrist. And of course there is the issue with the shoulder dislocations of last year. His absence in that batting order is a big loss because he sets the table for everyone else in the batting order.
They have utilitymen in left field and at shortstop though they will continue trade talks, but are balking at including top prospects in deals with the White Sox-Pirates-Mets..
They have insurance policy starters in Ryan Weathers and MacKenzie Gore but there is little else at AAA-El Paso. They probably will go a month without Mike Clevinger, who needs rehab starts as he recovers from elbow surgery and a knee injury.
What kind of season will they have? Can’t be as bad as last year when 6-of their 7-starting pitchers wound up on the disabled list with a wide variety of arm problems.
They play in an NL-West that is weak. 57-games against the Giants-Rockies-Diamondbacks which is a real break. The Friars record (88-74)
The Dodgers have the best lineup in baseball, now that Freddie Freeman anchors the batting order with Mookie Betts and a cast of veterans. What remains to be seen is whether Cody Bellinger can ever be what he used to be at home plate. Gavin Lux moves into the starting lineup. The pitching staff is loaded, led by big names like Beuhler, Urias and Kershaw. Dustin May will be back early in the season, and the arrival of Craig Kimbrel as a closer locks up the bullpen. The wildcard in all this, does Trevor Bauer get reinstated? Do the Dodgers retain him? If he joins the rotation, is it the best in baseball? Record (101-61)
San Francisco stunned baseball with 107-wins, but they won’t have Buster Posey, and will have a fresh batch of 1-year free agent rentals on the roster and there are age and injury issues surrounding Brandon Belt and Brandon. Can they recreate the magic of a year ago? Record (82-80)
Arizona has Madison Bumgarner, Luke Weaver, Ketel Marte and Mark Melancon, but little else. A young rotation but not much else. Record (75-87)
Colorado has big money big hitter Kris Bryant to go with Ryan McMahon, Charley Blackmon and CJ Cron and two front line pitchers in German Marquez and Kyle Freeland in that rotation. But it’s not enough. Record (70-92)
As the home plate umpire will yell next year…”Play Ball”.