SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The San Diego Padres enter the 2022 MLB season looking to rebound from 2021’s late-season collapse, and the team is turning to new manager Bob Melvin to guide the team to a postseason berth -- all while missing star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. for the first months of the campaign.
The Friars entered 2021 with World Series aspirations after a playoff run in 2020, and the season got off to a great start with San Diego native Joe Musgrove tossing the franchise’s first no-hitter and Tatis growing into one of the faces of Major League Baseball.
But injuries, inconsistent starting pitching, a tired bullpen, and a lack of activity at the trade deadline were some of the factors that caused the Padres to nosedive in the standings, ultimately costing Jayce Tingler his job.
Now, the Padres are banking on Melvin and their other offseason additions to help the team survive the early portion of the year without Tatis.
Here are four things to know as the Padres open the 2022 season:
REPLACING EL NIÑO: MVP candidate Fernando Tatis Jr. suffered a fractured wrist during the offseason, and after having surgery in March, the 23-year-old was placed on the 60-day injured list.
Tatis is expected to miss at least the first two months of the season, with a mid- to late-June return a possibility.
The team is looking to Ha-Seong Kim (or possibly top prospect C.J. Abrams) to man the shortstop position until Tatis returns.
MORE PITCHING DEPTH: Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, and Blake Snell will be joined in the starting rotation by newly-acquired Sean Manaea, the returning Mike Clevinger, and free agent signee Nick Martinez.
Chris Paddack was considered a candidate for the rotation, but he and reliever Emilio Pagan were dealt to the Minnesota Twins before the team’s Opening Day game.
The bullpen is also deeper, with the additions of Taylor Rogers (from Minnesota in the Paddack-Pagan trade), Robert Suarez, and Steven Wilson. While the team does not have a true closer, there are several relievers with closing experience that Melvin can turn to.
OFFENSIVE EXPECTATIONS: Without Tatis, much of the offensive load is expected to fall on the shoulders of All-Stars Manny Machado and Jake Cronenworth. The team also is counting on bounce-back years from Wil Myers, Eric Hosmer, Trent Grisham, and Austin Nola to help them get through the games without the star shortstop.
Luke Voit, Jorge Alfaro, and Matt Beaty were brought in for depth, but concerns remain about an everyday left fielder. Could the outfield answer be Abrams or will Jurickson Profar produce enough to keep his spot in the lineup?
NEW VOICE IN THE CLUBHOUSE: Many baseball analysts praised the Padres for hiring Melvin away from the Oakland Athletics, with some calling the hiring the team’s best offseason move.
Melvin has been lauded over the years for his ability to lead teams to success -- multiple division titles and playoff appearances -- despite budget constraints and less-heralded players.
There is hope that the three-time Manager of the Year Award winner’s calming influence and willingness to embrace the data-driven philosophies of baseball while still maintaining an old-school approach to managing will translate to more wins for the Padres.