As most baseball fans know by now, the trade deadline recently passed last week. With this, we saw one of the more exciting trade deadlines in recent memory, with quite a few high-priority targets being dealt to new teams. The most well-known of these players would be young superstar outfielder Juan Soto, formerly of the Washington Nationals.
On the day of the trade deadline, we saw Juan Soto dealt to the San Diego Padres for a variety of prospects. The question now for many fans is how do the Padres stack up against the league’s best teams, and could they be the new favorites for a World Series title?
In this article, I will be breaking down their competition for the top spot, as well as how they look compared to those other teams. So without further ado, let us begin with their division rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Can the Padres win their division?
The first thing you need to see in a World Series title-caliber team is whether or not they can win their own division. While Wild Card teams can make it to the big game, more often than not this will not end up being the case unless they make a major acquisition late in the season.
In this case, their biggest intra-divisional competition would be the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are currently 15 ½ games ahead of the Padres in the standings. The Dodgers also swept the Padres this week in a 3 game series, which to say the least does not bode well for San Diego.
The reason the Padres got swept was due to a mix of the pitching giving up 16 runs in the first two games, as well as the offense scoring 4 runs in all 3 games. In the first two games where Padres’ pitching gave up 8 runs in each game, they were down to their 4th and 5th starting pitchers in Sean Manaea and Mike Clevinger. However, in game 3 they had Yu Darvish start, who despite a loss held the Dodgers to 2 runs before being relieved.
Now it comes down to if the Padres could take a series against the Dodgers in the playoffs with their starting pitching rotation. With how their offense is playing right now? No. However, if they can start getting Juan Soto, Josh Bell, Brandon Drury, Manny Machado, and the rest of their offense rolling before the postseason, I believe they would have a chance against the Dodgers.
While this is an extremely unlikely outcome, there is the chance that the Padres can make a postseason push and look better than they did this week.
Do the Padres have the firepower to compete with the fiery AL?
The next step the Padres would have to look towards is trying to beat out whoever comes out of the American League. Right now you have a two-way tie for first place in the AL, between the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros. Frankly, neither team would be one you want to go up against in a 7 game series right now.
While the Yankees currently are struggling at times, they have essentially the frontrunner for AL-MVP in Aaron Judge, who is on pace for 75+ home runs this season. On top of that, they also have a completely rounded-out roster with players like Giancarlo Stanton returning off injury eventually, DJ LeMahieu, and Anthony Rizzo.
Now we can look to the Yankees’ biggest weakness right now, which is seemingly starting pitching. While Gerrit Cole has his games where he shows up, he also has games where he is the cause of the team losing. Adding in Frankie Montas to the starting group, and Lou Trivino to the bullpen will most definitely help sure up this issue for the Yankees.
On the other hand, we have the Houston Astros. Another team that has been exceptionally talented this year, and has filled out their biggest needs before the deadline. As we saw, the Astros shored up their catching position with newly acquired Christian Vasquez, as well as their first base/DH depth in Trey Mancini.
In addition, they also have one of the best rosters in baseball with another MVP candidate in Yordan Alvarez, as well as quality players such as Kyle Tucker, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Justin Verlander, and others. With their postseason experience on top of that, they will be a formidable opponent in the playoffs.
With all of this in mind, is there any chance that the Padres are the new World Series Favorites? For right now, no, as they have been playing somewhat poor baseball since the deadline. On top of this, there are at least 3 teams if not a 4th in the New York Mets that are doing considerably well this season.
However, that is not to say the Padres are not World Series contenders now. Their roster is absolutely worthy of making a deep postseason push. It will take some determination and grit from the players to overcome a potential talent deficit to the other major teams competing right now.