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Padres named a surprise 2020 contender by ESPN

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Does San Diego have the right pieces to make a splash this season?

MLB: San Diego Padres at Arizona Diamondbacks Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday morning, ESPN published an article by FanGraph.com’s Craig Edwards, discussing a handful of teams that he believes could be “surprise contenders” in this year’s 60-game MLB season. Edwards put a spotlight on four teams, two from the American League and two form the National League. The Padres, along with the Colorado Rockies, were named the two surprise NL contenders.

Edwards first points to the team’s best two players, 3B/SS Manny Machado and SS Fernando Tatis Jr. as the first few reasons why San Diego should be considered one of the more high-variant teams in the MLB this season.

“The Padres didn’t make the splash they anticipated in the standings after signing Manny Machado to a $300 million contract, but there are still a lot of contending elements on the squad,” says Edwards. “With a year in San Diego under his belt, Machado could be in line for a better performance. Fernando Tatis Jr. missed much of last season but looks like a star in the making.”

Secondly, it’s hard to not also point towards the Padres’ bullpen, which is widely-considered as one of the deepest, most-promising units in major league baseball.

“The team has plentiful options for the rotation, with Chris Paddack looking very good in his debut season, Dinelson Lamet a breakout possibility, Garrett Richards an interesting comeback candidate and Joey Lucchesi and Zach Davies providing solid options at the end of the rotation. After that group, MacKenzie Gore is one of the best prospects in baseball. In a short season, a quality bullpen is going to be incredibly important, and the Padres look stacked with Kirby Yates, Drew Pomeranz, Emilio Pagan and Craig Stammen. It is an underrated group, but one that should excel at holding leads and keeping the Padres in close games.

Edwards believes the Padres’ record should hit somewhere around .500 this season. However, after accounting for some things potentially bouncing their way, he believes 36-wins could be the high mark.

Do you all agree with Edwards expectations for this team? Do you agree or disagree with his reasoning?