Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Last season, the San Diego Padres and the San Francisco Giants fought it out for the third place spot in the National League West. In the end, the west coast franchises shared a third place finish with a 76-86 record. In 2014, watch for the Padres and Giants to massively improve upon their finishes from last year. The Giants will really need to know their enemy; The San Diego Padres.
The Padres could well be a surprise package for the approaching season, they’ve had a rather quiet, but nonetheless successful offseason. Firstly their rotation: Ian Kennedy, Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, Eric Stults and Josh Johnson combine for a fairly solid rotation. If Cashner can improve upon his great season, Ross can pitch in 200 innings with the same success as last year and Kennedy and Johnson bounce back, the Padres could really be onto a winner.
Despite this rather strong rotation, the Giants will easily outperform the Padres in terms of starting pitching. Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Tim Hudson, Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong will be sent to the mound to counter, and should have much success. Starting pitching may be an area of strength for San Diego, but the Giants will easily take it.
Next up, bullpens. The Padres haven’t done too much to help their bullpen, they traded away Luke Gregerson, one of the most underrated setup men in the game, and replaced him with former Detroit Tigers setup man, Joaquin Benoit. Huston Street will again close, and will aim to build upon the 12 saves he recorded last year. The Padres did however, trade for Alex Torres from the Tampa Bay Rays who could potentially be lights out for ‘Americas Finest City.’
Despite this, the Giants will easily outperform the Padres in terms of bullpen. With Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla and Javier Lopez set to lock down the late innings, the Giants bullpen figures to be much more secure. Further more, young arms like Heath Hembree, Derek Law and Edwin Escobar could feature over the course of the year, easily giving the Giants a better bullpen.
Finally, offensively. The Padres have the potential to be a very threatening offense. With Everth Cabrera and his 50 steals leading off, followed by much power potential, it’s not hard to see why. Jedd Gyorko, Will Venable, Chase Headley and Carlos Quentin could all hit twenty homers, and if Seth Smith can find his form in his new home, this offense could be one to watch.
I highly respect the Padres offense, but again it’s no match for the Giants. With Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, Mike Morse, Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt all capable of smashing twenty home runs, at least, the Giants will over power the Padres once more. With Angel Pagan stealing bases and hitting triples at the top of the order followed by Marco Scutaro and his high batting average, watch the Giants sweep aside the Padres offensively.
Overall, the San Diego Padres have compiled a very competitive roster for 2014, but it, as previously mentioned, will be no match for the almighty San Francisco Giants. Whilst the Padres might not be challenging for the division title, look for them to improve upon their 2013 season, and maybe even make a run for the wildcard spot.