Ignore the San Diego Padres all you want.
It would be easy.
After all, this franchise has been nothing but disappointing in the postseason, and that was with the late, great Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn.
They went out and made probably the biggest trade in MLB history, grabbing slugger Juan Soto at the trade deadline, only to have their all-world star Fernando Tatis Jr. get busted for PEDs and get suspended until next season.
They couldn’t beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, a division rival, to save their lives all season.
Lastly, they struggled just to hold onto a wild-card playoff spot.
But none of it matters.
Just ask the New York Mets.
They were a juggernaut basically all season, winning 101 games and hosting a three-game set in NYC against the Padres.
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The Padres won the third-and-deciding game, 6-0, on Sunday night at Citi Field. It was a total mismatch.
San Diego now plays the Dodgers in a best-of-five National League Division Series, starting tonight at Dodger Stadium.
And Dodgers fans better be scared to death.
The Padres are armed and dangerous.
The Padres have pitching bought from Saks 5th Ave. The Dodgers staff looks more like an Old Navy purchase. Due to so many injuries, the staff looks like it’s being held together with glue, tape, and string.
Before the season started, Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts looked at his team’s roster and guaranteed a championship.
Bold, for sure.
But not beautiful when Roberts looks at his current rotation.
Roberts was asked if he wanted to void his title promise since his staff is depleted. “I’m not voiding it,” he told the media recently. “I still believe that regardless of what’s transpired this year with our pitching, we have enough talent to prevent runs.”
The Dodgers have two dependable starters in Julio Urias and Clayton Kershaw. For context, the Dodgers lost ace Walker Buehler. And they probably won’t have Blake Treinen.
Kershaw started the season as the fourth starter and had to be moved up because of the Dodgers’ stud starter Tony Gonsolin.
Gonsolin started the season 11-0, but got injured. And if he can return, it will be just as a reliever.
After that, there are more questions than answers on the mound. Plus, Roberts demoted closer Craig Kimbrel, who is now a mop-up man. Roberts will try to win a championship with a bullpen by committee.
Meanwhile, the Padres showed their pitching wealth and muscles in the series against the Mets. Yu Darvish beat the Mets in Game 1 with a super start, going seven innings. He allowed just one run.
In the clincher, Joe Musgrove turned in a start suitable for framing, allowing no runs and just one hit in a dominating seven innings.
Darvish, Blake Snell, and Musgrove started the three wild-card games for San Diego and won’t be available on regular rest until Games 2, 3, and 4.
Better yet, the Padres’ bullpen is good and in great shape coming into this series. Relievers pitched only 8.2 innings against New York in the three games. Only Robert Suarez pitched in two of the three games. Closer Josh Hader pitched only once, closing the series out with a dominating ninth inning to send the Mets on vacation.
On paper, the Dodgers — who won 22 games more than the Padres — have the better team and own San Diego. They beat their little brother to the South 14 out of 19 games this season.
But in baseball, it’s always about pitching and defense. That’s how you win a World Series. Often, we’ve seen potent offenses shut down in October against great pitching.
That’s what this Padres staff is capable of. Before the season started, I predicted that the Padres would meet the New York Yankees in the World Series.
Despite better all-around teams in the National League, it still came back to the Padres’ wealth of veteran pitchers that have been in big games.
Darvish, Musgrove, and Snell have pitched in the World Series. So has Game 1 starter Mike Clevinger. This stage is not going to turn their arms to goo.
After seeing how this staff has come together, it would be foolish to think this team can’t make it to the World Series. Listen up, Dodgers fans.