Washington Nationals 2020 Season Preview: San Diego Padres
By Max Rayman
The Padres did not live up to their expectations in 2019 and look to move out of their rebuild for 2020. Will things be different this time around?
Entering the 2019 season, the Padres made a huge splash by signing Manny Machado to a 10 year deal worth 300 million. He joined Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers, and the top farm system in baseball that included Fernando Tatis Jr. It showed the Friars saw the end of their rebuild and were committed to winning. Instead Machado, Hosmer, and Myers all had down years. Tatis Jr. jumped out to a hot start but ended up suffering from a stress reaction in his lower back in August. He was shut down for the rest of the season. Before the injury, Tatis Jr. was hitting .317, with 22 homers, 53 RBI’s, and had an OPS of .969. The combined down year from the Padres top three paid players, injury to Tatis Jr. and inconsistency in the starting rotation led to the Padres finishing last in the NL West.
Fast forward to now, and the Padres look improved, but still have some holes. The front office wanted to add an Ace to the rotation but missed out on all the big names. Chris Paddack made his rookie debut last year and went 9-7, with a 3.33 ERA, and 153 strikeouts, in 26 starts. The 24 year old held opposing batters to a .202 average and an OPS of .635. He had impressive K/9 and K/BB rates of 9.79 and 4.94 respectively. However he cannot do it alone and will need some help. Top prospect MacKenzie Gore might be another year away, so the combination of Joey Lucchesi, Garrett Richards, and Zach Davies will need to step up.
Hosmer and Machado should bounce back, while Tatis Jr. looks to be fully healthy. This plus a dangerous bullpen has things looking up in San Diego. Now can they put it all together?
San Diego’s 2019 record: 70-92
Washington’s record vs. the Padres: 3-4
San Diego added/re-signed: Tommy Pham, Trent Grisham, Zach Davies, Craig Stammen, Jurickson Profar
San Diego lost: Ian Kinsler, Nick Margevicius, Luis Urias, Eric Lauer,
Nationals to Watch
The Padres have an improved lineup that will be itching to score runs. However the Nationals starting rotation loves a challenge. Max Scherzer was placed on the IL last year for the first time in his 12 year career. Now that he is healthy, he will be looking to prove that was a fluke. Despite being injured, Scherzer still had a successful 2019 season. He went 11-7, with a 2.92 ERA, and 243 strikeouts, in 172 1/3 innings.
Scherzer has had success against the current Padres lineup, even facing some of their guys when he used to pitch in the AL. The Padres are hitting a measly .206, with four homers, and 63 strikeouts in 170 at bats against the righty. The match up to keep an eye on is Scherzer vs. Hosmer. Among the Padres, Hosmer has faced Scherzer the most, 43 times. He his hitting .256, with a homer, four RBIS, 12 strikeouts, and has an OPS of .678. Scherzer is prone to the long ball, especially early in the game. Hosmer will need able to capitalize on that opportunity in order to work Scherzer’s pitch count early. If not it might be a long day for the Padres lineup.
2020 Series Prediction
August 13-16 in D.C.
August 21-23 @ San Diego
Last year the Padres caught the Nationals when they were struggling and not at full force. This year will be different. While Fernando Tatis Jr. will be back and Manny Machado should improve after a down year, the Nationals pitching staff will prove to be too much.
Prediction: Nats win 4-3