Padres 2022 season preview: Projected lineup, rotation and three questions about San Diego – CBS Sports

The San Diego Padres are coming off one of the most disappointing team-level seasons in the sport. Last season was supposed to be their year; their big chance at dethroning the Dodgers and removing their grip on the National League West. 

It turned out that the Dodgers didn’t win the West, at last, but it wasn’t because of the Padres’ doing. Rather, while San Diego was falling apart late in the year, crumbling to a sub-.500 record, it was the San Francisco Giants who emerged as the new western force.

After an uncharacteristically quiet winter, can the Padres return to contention? 

Win total projection, odds

  • 2021 record: 79-83 (third in NL West)
  • 2022 Sportsline projection: 87-75
  • World Series odds (via William Hill Sportsbook): +1800

Projected lineup

  1. Trent Grisham, CF
  2. Manny Machado, 3B
  3. Jake Cronenworth, 2B
  4. Luke Voit, DH
  5. Wil Myers, RF
  6. Eric Hosmer, 1B
  7. Austin Nola, C
  8. Jurickson Profar, LF
  9. Ha-Seong Kim, SS

Last season’s Padres ranked 14th in both runs scored and wRC+, a catch-all metric housed at FanGraphs that adjusts for park and other variables. It’s fair to write that’s below what the Padres anticipated from their starting nine. A.J. Preller didn’t do much to alter his hitting crop this winter, settling on acquiring Luke Voit, Jorge Alfaro and Matt Beaty and refiguring the bench, possibly with non-roster invitees like Trayce Thompson and Domingo Leyba. One notable name missing from above is Fernando Tatis Jr. He’ll miss the start of the season following wrist surgery stemming from a motorcycle accident. Don’t be shocked to see top prospects CJ Abrams and Luis Campusano reach the majors by summertime. 

Projected rotation

  1. Joe Musgrove, RHP
  2. Yu Darvish, RHP
  3. Blake Snell, LHP
  4. Mike Clevinger, RHP
  5. Nick Martínez, RHP

The Padres will be making two potential additions to their starting five, in Clevinger and Martínez. Clevinger missed all of last season following Tommy John surgery. Martínez, meanwhile, is back from a stint overseas. The top three starters are all entering their second full season with the Padres. Should anyone falter or require a stint on the IL, the Padres could call upon Chris Paddack, Ryan Weathers, or MacKenzie Gore, among other young, modest options. 

Projected bullpen

It’s not clear who the Padres will have closing games for them. We’re putting down Johnson because he has the most closer-like name. Mark Melancon, who led San Diego with 39 saves last season, is now with the Diamondbacks. No other member of the Padres roster recorded more than one save. Of the names listed above, only García and Suarez (another addition from overseas) are new names to the organization. 

And now for three questions about the 2022 Padres.

1. Who steps up during Tatis’ absence? 

Assuming Tatis misses a couple months recovering from his wrist surgery, the Padres will have to play more than a third of their schedule without their best player. That’s not ideal, to write the least.

If there is a silver lining for the Padres, it’s that they have some internal options who could help keep them afloat. One is Ha-Seong Kim, the South Korean infielder who saw action at various positions last season. CBS Sports recently tabbed him as a breakout candidate, writing the following

Kim isn’t the flashiest defender. He’s not out there stretching the limits of what people believe a shortstop can do, the way Javier Báez does. He is, nevertheless, a quality defender who makes all the plays with strong technique. Now that Kim has had time to adjust to life in America and in the majors, we think it’s possible that his bat ticks up, too. We’re basing this primarily on soft factors, human factors, rather than any underlying hint found in his data. If Kim’s bat does perk up, he’s going to be a nifty little player.

If Kim fails to impress in his second year in the States, the Padres could always turn to prospect CJ Abrams. He’s a speedster who could be San Diego’s shortstop of the future anyway, with Tatis potentially moving to the outfield. 

The catch with Abrams is that he missed most of last season because of a broken leg. He hit .296/.363/.420 in Double-A when he was healthy, though, and Preller and crew might feel they have no other choice but to bring him up quickly if he does well in his first few weeks at Triple-A.

Neither Kim nor Abrams will match Tatis’ impact-caliber play; the most the Padres can hope for is minimizing their loss of production until Tatis rejoins the club. 

2. Will rotation live up to hype?

Last year, the answer was “no.” Musgrove was great and seems like the surest thing San Diego has in the starting five. Darvish and Snell had uneven seasons while Clevinger, as we noted above, missed 2021. On paper, this group has a chance to be worth all the spilled ink. There’s a great deal of uncertainty with each, however.

Darvish was electric in the early going. He had a 2.44 ERA through his first 16 starts, but from the beginning of July onward things went awry. He made 14 more appearances the rest of the way, amassing a 6.65 ERA and allowing more hits than innings pitched. Darvish did suffer a hip injury in August that sidelined him for two weeks, but it’s unclear how much his physical state played into his decline. 

Snell worked in reverse of Darvish. He entered August with a 5.44 ERA and 55 walks in his first 84 innings with San Diego. Snell got into gear late, finishing strong in his final eight outings. His totals included 44 innings, 14 walks, and a 1.83 ERA. As with Darvish, we know Snell has more talent than his overall numbers indicated. The key for the Padres is figuring out how to prevent both from having another prolonged rut.

As for Clevinger, a full recovery from Tommy John surgery is the most likely scenario. There are always exceptions, however, and it’s unclear what kind of innings restriction (if any) the Padres will have him on that could limit his impact. 

Should all three pitch as they are capable of, San Diego could field one of the strongest rotations in the sport.

3. Who is the new coaching staff?

Lest we forget to mention, the Padres have a new manager. Jayce Tingler took the fall for San Diego’s disappointing 2021, paving the way for the Padres to hire Bob Melvin from the Athletics. San Diego also poached Ryan Christenson (bench coach) from the A’s, and tabbed Ruben Niebla, previously of the Guardians, as their pitching coach.

Melvin, 60, is the focus here. He’s certainly bringing more experience to the table than Tingler did, having already managed in parts of 18 other seasons. He’s accumulated a .514 winning percentage during that time, leading seven clubs to the postseason along the way.

Melvin, especially during his time with the Athletics, garnered a reputation for getting the most from his players. The Padres sure hope he lives up to that billing.