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Know your enemy: San Diego Padres

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They’re going to be good competition for the Dodgers.

Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images

KEY ADDITIONS: Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove, Nick Burdi, Mark Melancon, Keone Kela

KEY SUBTRACTIONS: Kirby Yates, Garrett Richards, Trevor Rosenthal, Mitch Moreland, Yonder Alonso, Joey Lucchesi

The Padres have, obviously, significantly improved their team this offseason with the acquisitions of Yu Darvish and Blake Snell.

What you might not remember is that the Padres were already a good team before these additions. They finished with the second-best record in the National League’s shortened 60-game season at 37-23 and beat the Cardinals in a wild-card series before succumbing to the Dodgers in a division series sweep.

That offense was led by Manny Machado (.304/.370/.580, 16 home runs) and Fernando Tatis Jr. (.277/.366/.571, 17 home runs) and Tatis was just 21 years old putting up those numbers. You all know about the massive deal Tatis signed recently, which will keep him a Padre basically for his entire career, and it’s likely going to be worth it. It won’t cost the Padres all that much for the first few years, anyway:

The first six years of that deal look like a relative bargain. If the Padres win the World Series in that time, no one will care about the rest of it.

The Pads have some other good hitters, including Wil Myers finally seeming to show the tremendous potential he had as a Rays rookie several years ago. Myers hit .288/.353/.606 with 15 home runs in 2020.

The pitching staff, of course, is their crown jewel now with Darvish and Snell leading a staff that was pretty decent already. Chris Paddack, a solid starter who has been the best on the staff previously, is now their No. 3 or No. 4 starter. Dinelson Lamet, apparently healthy, had a good year in 2020 and is set for bigger things.

With Mark Melancon on the staff now, they’ll have options at closer, including Drew Pomeranz and Emilio Pagan, with Kirby Yates having departed in free agency.

It seems to me that the 19 games the Padres and Dodgers play against each other could decide this division. Both should beat up on the other three teams. The Dodgers won six of the 10 regular-season games between the teams in 2020. Watch for the Padres to be tougher than you might think.

The Cubs and Padres are scheduled to face each other six times in 2021, all within a 10-day period:

May 31, June 1-2 at Wrigley Field

June 7-8-9 at Petco Park

I find myself hoping that the Cubs will not have to face Darvish in either series.