Recently, the Padres’ 2019 schedule was released, and understanding what it means for the team’s future is obviously something we want to know about.
With so many highly-touted prospects nearly ready to be called up to the major leagues, it’s easy to be excited about what may be coming in the near future for the Friars.
A popular question many of us are asking ourselves is: Could the Padres really make a run at the playoffs during the 2019 season? This is where the schedule comes into play, and the release of it has given us a much better idea of the chances the team has of breaking their playoff drought next season. The strength of the Padres’ schedule has certainly increased in comparison to their calendar of games during the current campaign.
To put it plainly, the Padres’ interleague opponent next year is the AL East division — in which the Red Sox and Yankees reside. For those who don’t already know, those teams have the two best records in baseball so far in 2018, and are not set to lose any core players during the coming offseason. We can’t forget about the Rays, who always seem to find ways to be competitive despite their low payroll flexibility, and the Blue Jays, who will likely have Vladamir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette on the roster next season. Outside of the tanking Orioles, the Padres will be in for some very tough interleague matchups in facing the division.
So currently, it’s hard to be particularly optimistic about the young Friars’ chances of contending in 2019, unfortunately.
That’s an easy conclusion to jump to though, and we need to dig deeper to truly grasp the essence of the Padres’ schedule in the next season. We’re gonna go through each individual month in their schedule and analyze the series in which the Padres are slated to compete in, so we can fully evaluate the team’s chances of finally getting to the postseason during the coming year. We start in March, for the second straight year:
28-31: Home versus San Francisco Giants
The team opens with a four-game series against the Giants at home, and it would be reasonable to say that the team should split this series with San Francisco. They have a good chance of starting the year with a winning month of march because the Giants’ future doesn’t look very bright.
In facing Arizona, it’s going to be a tough series against a team that’s currently leading the division. Their following series against the Cardinals should also be challenging, though probably not quite as difficult as facing Arizona. They then get another shot at the Giants on the road — games the Padres should be pretty competitive in. A series versus the Diamondbacks again, but in Arizona, will be especially tough after that, and the same can be said of their two-game set to follow when they return to face the Rockies. They get some respite in facing the Reds at home after those series, but then have another tough seven games in which they face the Mariners, Nationals, and Braves to finish the month. The month of April will make it pretty tough for the Padres to emerge above .500, and it will give us a really good idea of what the team is made of from the beginning.
The second full month of the season starts with two games to finish the four-game set versus Atlanta on the road — in which it’ll be challenging to win. After that, the perennial juggernaut in the Dodgers come to Petco for a three-game series, and we all know it’s always going to be hard to beat the Dodgers with the enormous payroll flexibility they have. Hosting the Mets at home should give the team a chance to improve in the win column, and then a six-game road trip through Colorado and Los Angeles will once again test the Padres versus division foes. A seven-game home stand against the Pirates and Diamondbacks is also going to be fairly tough, but perhaps the Pirates won’t be too competitive, so maybe they could come out around .500 in the seven total games. Then the team sets off on a road trip to Toronto and New York in their first tests versus the AL East — six games that will be very hard to win considering the Yankees’ financial might and the Blue Jays’ quality of near-ready prospects in the high minors. A home game against the Marlins will give them a chance at finishing the month off with a win at home, at least. Another tough month will make it difficult for the team to have a winning record.
Once again finishing a series with two games to start the month, the team will probably have to win games against teams like the Marlins if they’re going to contend. A seven-game home stand afterwards has the Phillies and Nationals coming to town, which will again be tough matchups. Hitting the road thereafter, the team faces the Giants and Rockies in two and four-game sets in that order — in which they’ll likely need to be at least .500 if they’re going to have a shot at the Playoffs. Their next series is at home versus the Brewers, which should be another hard series to win games in. Five games on the road in Pittsburgh and Baltimore to follow will be the team’s longest stretch of games versus potentially less competitive clubs, so they’ll want to capitalize on that road trip. If the visiting Cardinals are weaker next season when they visit, it would give the team eight games they would have a good chance of winning. More likely, the Cardinals will be pretty competitive, as they almost always seem to be. Once again, this month has a pretty challenging schedule. It won’t be easy for the Padres to come out of the month above .500.
During the fourth full month of the season, a home series with the Giants will provide a nice chance to start the month off well. To finish the first half though, the team has to face the Dodgers in a three-game set at Dodger Stadium — so it would be remarkable if the team could win that series, but maybe not likely. Out of the break, the Padres host the Braves in a three-game set that will be easier than facing the Braves on the road, but still pretty challenging. Then they play the Marlins on the road in a series they should win if the team is competing well. A three-game series against the Cubs in Chicago won’t be easy, but facing the Mets in New York is a set of games the team should look forward to. In finishing the month with five games against the Orioles and Giants, the last eight games of July look to be the team’s easiest stretch of games throughout the schedule thus far. Look for the team to capitalize on those games, as all three teams they’re slated to play will likely have losing records. The schedule seems around average in July, so the team should likely improve its record in this month.
As soon as it seems like the team is catching a break in the schedule, they have to hit the road to face the Dodgers in Chavez Ravine to begin the month of August in a tough four-game set. Two games thereafter in Seattle versus the Mariners will be competitive between the teams, and maybe the Padres can improve in the win column then. Home games versus the Rockies to follow will be tough, and the team’s three-game set after against the Rays should be a pretty even matchup. San Diego then flies to Philadelphia and Cincinnati for a six-game stretch that will be tough against the Phillies, and likely more closely contested versus the Reds. They return home to face the Red Sox and Dodgers in consecutive series — easily the hardest six games in succession so far in the schedule. We will learn a lot about the team and what they’re made of during these six contests. A four-game series in San Francisco should help the team improve their record as they move towards September. This month includes brief respite, but mostly includes matchups versus very good teams, so the team will be tested often in the month of August and will find it difficult to win with consistency.
It will be nice for the team to have a game to begin versus San Francisco, but then they fly to Arizona to face the Diamondbacks, which will prove to be hard games to win. A seven-game home stretch against the Rockies and then Cubs will also be challenging for the team. Then they hit the road to see the Rockies again, before a four-game series in Milwaukee. The schedule still doesn’t let up after that, as the Padres host Arizona and the Dodgers for six games that will very likely be tough contests to win. Then the team goes to Arizona again to finish the year, which will be especially difficult as well. The month of September is going to be maybe the toughest in the Padres’ schedule, and is the ultimate example of how competitive San Diego’s 2019 slate of games truly is. It will be really difficult for the team to emerge towards the postseason on a hot-streak if that’s a possibility for them, because of the immensely talented teams they’re playing during the final month. This team is in a tough division, and facing so many of the teams in it during September will likely prove to be quite hard.
While it’s fun to think about the possibility of the Padres contending next season, this schedule shouldn’t make us any more optimistic about the chances of that happening. If anything, we should taper our expectations for the 2019 season after analyzing the slate of games the team has during the year. Maybe Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urías will spark the offense along with strong contributions from Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers — which isn’t such a far-fetched possibility. Unfortunately, though, it’s not likely realistic to be sure of any of those four players producing well next year. The pitching prospects may come up and have a 2015 Mets-esque impact, but most of the arms with the ability to do that lack the big league experience to accomplish such a feat. Most likely, the team will not be contending next year, as far as evaluating the schedule currently would seem to indicate. The offseason will make this kind of analysis much more easy to do, and will certainly make it more accurate, so we don’t really need to read into next season too seriously until next spring. As of now, the 2019 schedule just looks tough more than anything else, and that’s about all we can really say about next season so far.