It’s time to face the new-look Padres. Sort of.
There was exactly one good thing about the Juan Soto trade at the 2022 MLB trade deadline: he didn’t end up on the Los Angeles Dodgers. Everything else about it was bad. Notably that the San Francisco Giants didn’t land the generational talent, and that the NL West-residing San Diego Padres did.
The Giants never appeared to be serious suitors in the Soto Sweepstakes, but their name did come up in numerous reports. After Soto was traded to the Padres for a sizable package, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi confirmed the team’s interest, while admitting that the down year on the farm lessened the value of their prospects as trade assets.
So now, instead of having Soto, the Giants get to face him. A lot. And it starts today.
Mind you, it’s still not the full new-look Padres experience. Fernando Tatis Jr. just began his rehab assignment, but won’t be ready to rejoin the Major League team for a little while, so the Giants are spared facing the terrifying triumvirate that is Soto, Tatis, and Manny Machado.
But … still. These ain’t the Oakland A’s.
Who: San Francisco Giants vs. San Diego Padres
Where: Petco Park, San Diego, California
When: Monday (6:40 p.m. PT), Tuesday (6:40 p.m. PT), and Wednesday (1:10 p.m. PT)
National broadcasts: Monday (MLB Network, out of market only)
Monday: Alex Wood vs. Blake Snell
Tuesday: Alex Cobb vs. Joe Musgrove
Wednesday: Jakob Junis vs. Sean Manaea
Where they stand
Record: 53-55, 3rd in the NL West
Run differential: +22, 8th in the NL
Postseason standing: 2nd team out, 6.5 games out of the Wild Card
Momentum: 2-game winning streak, 5-5 in their last 10 games
Record: 61-50, 2nd in the NL West
Run differential: +32, 7th in the NL
Postseason standing: 3rd Wild Card
Momentum: 4-game losing streak, 5-5 in their last 10 games
Season series: Padres lead 6-4
Three Giants to watch
Alex Cobb: Not only are the Giants facing a terrifying lineup, but neither of their aces — Carlos Rodón and Logan Webb — will appear in the matchup. That’s the bed news. The good news is that, by the advanced metrics, Cobb has actually been better than Webb this year (when available). Among the 59 National League pitchers who have thrown at least 80 innings this year, Cobb’s 2.84 FIP ranks eighth, behind only Spencer Strider, Rodón, Max Scherzer, Max Fried, Clayton Kershaw, Brandon Woodruff, and Aaron Nola. His xFIP of 2.82 is second, behind only Strider. He’s very good.
Joey Bart: In case you missed the exciting news, Joey Bart is figuring things out. In a big way. In the 23 games before being optioned, Bart hit 5-48 with 26 strikeouts. His only extra-base hit was against Albert Pujols. In the 25 games since returning, he’s hitting 21-75 with 5 home runs, 2 doubles, and 25 strikeouts. With Curt Casali traded, Bart is the starting catcher. And right now that sure seems like a great thing.
Evan Longoria: Longoria is expected to return during this series, quite possibly for the opener. With the Giants facing lefties on Monday and Wednesday, that could be hugely beneficial. Longo hasn’t gotten too much credit this year because he’s been injured so much, but when healthy he’s been phenomenal, as he’s accrued more fWAR than All-Star starter Joc Pederson. He’s actually hit righties better than lefties this year, but that’s likely just small sample silliness.
Three Padres to watch
Juan Soto: Mentioning him in the headline and the intro isn’t enough. We need to talk about Soto here, too. Even in a down year (by his standards), Soto is bopping .249/.411/.486. He leads the Majors in walks, with 96 in 106 games. He did that last year, too, with 145 in 151 games … it seems only a matter of time before he averages more than a walk per game, which is absurd. He’s only two years removed from being the NL triple crown winner as a 21 year old. He’s an unreal baseball player.
Manny Machado: In case you forgot, the Padres still have Machado. Machado is sixth among NL position players in fWAR, trailing only Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Freddie Freeman, Dansby Swanson, and Francisco Lindor. He’s an elite hitter, an elite defender, and an elite Giants killer.
Sean Manaea: Manaea presents the Giants offense some opportunities, as he’s not having a particularly good year. The run prevention numbers — he has a 4.74 ERA and a 4.26 FIP — are the highest of his career. And while the strikeout rate — he has 118 in 114 innings — is the second-highest of his career, the walk rate is far and away the highest, as he’s issued 43 free passes. He’s also allowed 18 home runs in 20 games. The Giants have 6 runs against him in 12 innings this season, so they’ll likely be excited about that matchup.
All right, get in your predictions. Hopefully they’re optimistic. Hopefully they’re accurate.