2024 San Diego Padres O/U: How Padres Hit Over

The San Diego Padres, looking to turn the table following a massively disappointing 2023 season, had a crazy offseason with on-and off-the-field transactions that heavily transformed this franchise. Despite playing in a National League (NL) West division where every team except for the Colorado Rockies made considerable improvements this winter, San Diego has an uber-talented roster with a strong chance of winning more than the 83 games preseason oddsmakers bet on this team.

2024 San Diego Padres O/U: How The Padres Hit the OVER

Past History

The Padres, one of five Major League Baseball (MLB) teams yet to win a World Series, entered last season with sky-high expectations after they reached the NL League Championship Series (NLCS) the year before in former manager Bob Melvin’s first season. Late owner Peter Siedler continued increasing payroll, allowing general manager AJ Preller to construct a roster featuring superstar hitters Juan Soto, Fernando Tatis Jr, and the newly signed Xander Bogaerts, as well as pitchers Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, and Josh Hader. Nevertheless, they failed to live up to expectations and did not even make the playoffs because of their terrible luck and lack of execution in one-run and extra-inning contests.

2024 Offseason

The club’s offseason started on a tragic note as beloved owner Siedler, a two-time cancer survivor who was doing everything he could to make this club a winner, died at the age of 63. The Padres then released Melvin, who moved North to become the new manager of the San Francisco Giants. A month later, the club concluded its managerial search, hiring former St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt as their new manager. He is familiar with the club, having helped coach the past couple of years, and brings winning prowess as he led the Cardinals to the NLCS in 2019 and the Wild Card round the next two years before getting fired.

Shildt’s familiarity could prove key, as the Padres experienced a fair amount of roster turnover this offseason. Multiple players hit the free-agent market, none bigger than multi-time All-Star closer Josh Hader and star left-handed starting pitcher Blake Snell. Hader, who spent a year and a half in San Diego, signed with the Houston Astros, while 2023 NL Cy Young Award winner Snell just agreed to a short-term deal with the Giants as no team was willing to meet his exorbitant asking price for a long-term contract. The Padres also watched 2023 starting pitchers Michael Wacha and Seth Lugo sign with the Kansas City Royals, starter/reliever Nick Martinez land with the Cincinnati Reds, lefty reliever Tim Hill go to the Chicago White Sox, and Gary Sànchez head to the Milwaukee Brewers after stabilizing this club’s catching situation last season.

Not done subtracting, the club traded one of the best players in the league, shipping outfielders Soto and Trent Grisham to the New York Yankees in return for five players. While it hurts to give up a talent like Soto, the Padres did it because he is entering his final year under contract, and the players they got back, led by pitcher Michael King and backup catcher Kyle Higashioka, will help plug other holes in this roster. King, who pitched well relieving and starting with the Yankees last year, will make this squad’s rotation super deep, slotting behind Darvish, Musgrove, and the newest Padre, Dylan Cease.

Not wanting to give Snell a new lucrative contract, the Padres turned to the trade market to replace him. Former White Sox ace pitcher Cease spent the offseason amidst trade rumors because the White Sox are rebuilding fresh off a 100-loss campaign. Eventually, Chicago bit the bullet, trading him in return for four players, three of whom are top prospects set to be part of the new core on the South Side of Chicago. Highly touted pitching prospect Drew Thorpe headlined Chicago’s return as the Padres traded the player only a few months after acquiring him in the Soto deal. On a team with more support and talent, Cease looks to be one of the most significant rebound candidates in the sport. He could make the Padres harder to beat, provided he can right his form to where it was two seasons ago when he finished with a 2.20 ERA and almost 230 strikeouts.

Reasons for Optimism

This team has plenty of talent, may play with a chip on their shoulder and their late owner in mind, and cannot play any worse or be less fortunate in late, close games than they were last season. Their starting rotation looks on paper to be one of the best in the league, and the team will still go as far as third baseman Manny Machado, right fielder Tatis Jr, and its numerous well-known pitchers take it. Any lineup with Machado and Tatis Jr will inspire fear in opposing pitchers. They also have an experienced manager who knows what it takes to win and may be looking to prove doubters wrong after the way his last managerial job ended.

Reasons for Doubt 

The main reason to doubt the over is the competition, as last year’s top two finishers, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks, also improved their teams this winter. The Dodgers, in particular, set the baseball world ablaze with their shocking acquisitions of Japanese superstars Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto. The Diamondbacks brought back everyone from their miracle run to the World Series. In free agency, they added Eduardo Rodriguez to give them the good left-handed starter they sought to complement co-ace right-handers Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly.

Additionally, the Padres’ roster has some question marks. Firstly, can the team’s projected starting catcher, Luis Campusano, seize the everyday job and take the next step as a player?  Secondly, the team’s top prospect, shortstop Jackson Merrill, has emerged this spring as a strong contender to open the season as their starting center fielder. Can the Padres rely on him and presumed left-fielder Jurickson Profar to provide the expected contributions from those positions, or do they still need to add another outfielder? Lastly, the team expects 28-year-old Japanese reliever Yuki Matsui to replace Hader as its closer. Matsui performed well in the Japanese league, but he is already injured, not to mention the uncertainty regarding the rookie’s ability to save games against the advanced hitters in America.

Nevertheless, it should be another fascinating season in sunny San Diego. Catch the Padres kicking off the 2024 season against the Dodgers in Korea on March 20-21! Will the team rebound and return to the playoffs or suffer another disappointing season?

Main Image:  Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

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