Hello again, Friar Faithful, and welcome to the Divisional Series round of the MLB Playoffs! I hope we’re all feeling as good as this guy does:
The team has landed in Arlington, TX, and will face-off against the much-hated, the despised, and near-universally reviled L.A. Dodgers starting on Tuesday. I’ll try to crank out a prediction/”Know Thy Enemy” post before the game tomorrow, but until then, let’s get into some news and notes.
- The Padres and Dodgers may have faced each other plenty of times over the years, but this will be the first time the two division rivals play against each other in the Playoffs. While the Padres went 4-6 against the Dodgers this year (about as close as anyone has played the Dodgers in 2020), it was one of the Padres wins that the Dodgers actually cite as one of their most important games of the season. We all remember it: 14 September, when CF Trent Grisham murdered a pitch from Clayton Kershaw, followed by a bat flip and animated trot around the bases, leading to a 7-2 Padres win. Several players, most notably Mookie Betts, acknowledged that the loss served as a wakeup call for the rest of the season, saying “That was kind of a punch in the mouth. We responded well.” Safe to say, both teams will be ready to go for this best-of-5 series.
The biggest question for the Padres centers on the starting pitching. The team managed to escape the Wild Card series against the Cardinals despite getting minimal contributions from Chris Paddack and Zach Davies and leaning HEAVILY on the bullpen. The team cannot do that again here in the NLDS, given the lack of off-days. While longtime starter Garrett Richards has become a weapon in the bullpen, it’s worth wondering whether he might be better served in the rotation, especially considering both RHPs Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger both remain question marks, despite some encouraging signs. “We owe them, we owe the medical staff (time),” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said Sunday. “I feel confident it’s going to be a last-minute decision on the roster. Trying to keep everything in play, not ruling anything out. … Each one is day to day. Feels like we’ll take a half-step forward, then another half-step forward, then we’ve been having a half-step back. We’ve got to stack some good days and see where we’re at.” Clevinger, who is working back from a posterior elbow impingement, threw a bullpen session Sunday at Globe Life Field. He also threw in the bullpen Sept. 29 before being left off the Padres’ Wild Card Series roster the next day. Lamet played catch Sunday, and a Padres official described the day as “positive” for both pitchers, mainly because Lamet saw elbow specialist Dr. Keith Meister on Sunday and was cleared to continue throwing (Meister performed Lamet’s Tommy John surgery back in 2018).
- With that said, the rosters for the NLDS are due by 0800 Pacific on Tuesday, with Game 1 scheduled to start at 6:38 PT that night. The Padres will almost certainly carry more than the 14 pitchers they did for the Wild Card Series against the Cardinals. Among their primary options are RHP Luis Perdomo, who allowed 6 runs in 3 innings (2 games) against the Dodgers this season, and top prospect LHP MacKenzie Gore, who would become the first pitcher in major league history to make his debut in the postseason. The Padres have 4 additional RHPs (Michel Baez, Taylor Williams, plus Lamet and Clevinger) and 2 LHPs (José Castillo, Ryan Weathers) in their 40-man playoff pool. LHP Joey Lucchesi, who is not injured, is not in the 40-man pool.
- If the team opts for more pitchers, then the question becomes who will move off the bench? The Friars only used 10 offensive players all series, despite facing both LHP and RHP against the Cards. There’s little reason to think they’d deviate from that script in the NLDS, so that means Greg Garcia and Luis Campusano — useful bats from the left and right side, respectively — maybe on the roster bubble. The Padres would love to keep both, but they might need extra pitching a little bit more.
- Regardless of the roster decisions that will almost certainly come down to the wire, the team made sure one member of the pitching staff will be present, if only in cardboard form:
That’s it for today. If you see any other updates, fire away in the comments.
GO PADRES!!! RESPECT SAN DIEGO!!!