The San Diego Padres have clinched a spot in the postseason in a full season for the first time since 2006. They did so on a day where they fell to the Chicago White Sox and got in because the Milwaukee Brewers lost in extras to the Miami Marlins.
But let’s be clear. Just because they didn’t win yesterday doesn’t mean they backed into the playoffs. They are an 87-win team with three more to go in the regular season.
It’s not like the Padres didn’t go on a long losing streak and get in. Their longest losing streak this season is four games. They won five in a row after losing to the Arizona Diamondbacks on September 15. Two of those wins came against the NL Central champion St. Louis Cardinals.
Then they got a great win on Saturday night against AL Cy Young contender Dylan Cease where Juan Soto, Jake Cronenworth and Manny Machado each hit a home run.
A team doesn’t back into the postseason when they overcame as much adversity as this team had this year. Manager Bob Melvin was in the hospital in May getting prostate surgery. He and bench coach Ryan Christenson were in COVID protocols at one point so Ryan Flaherty was the interim manager.
Manny Machado sprained his ankle in Colorado and some fans feared he’d be out for the rest of the year. After around the clock treatment, he returned after a nine game absence.
Juan Soto drove in seven runs and had an uncharacteristic .694 OPS in his first 35 games with the Padres after being traded from Washington. Josh Bell was 1-for-30 at one point as he was trying to settle in with his new team. Josh Hader temporarily lost his closer role, giving up nine runs and combining to get just six outs against the Washington Nationals, Cleveland Guardians and Kansas City Royals in August.
And of course we can’t forget the Fernando Tatis Jr. suspension that caught everybody off guard. The Padres were expecting to add a superstar to their lineup only to learn he wouldn’t play a single game with the team all year. Since learning of Tatis’ suspension, the Padres have a winning record.
Through all of the adversity, the Padres are in the postseason. That’s not backing in.