Having clinched their first playoff berth since 2006 on Sunday, the San Diego Padres firmly say they aren’t letting up as they open their final homestand Tuesday night with the first of two games with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
While overtaking the Dodgers for first in the National League West is all but impossible — the Dodgers hold a four-game lead with six to play — the Padres’ magic number to clinch the No. 4 seed in the NL playoffs is three.
While the Padres (34-20) still have something on the line, the Angels (24-31) are heading toward the offseason. Their number for elimination from American League postseason contention is three.
Right-hander Zach Davies (7-3, 2.69 ERA) will get the start for the Padres on Tuesday, while the Angels will counter with right-hander Griffin Canning (1-3, 4.29).
With the No. 4 seed near on the horizon, the Padres are beginning to plan for the postseason. It is looking like right-handers Dinelson Lamet, Davies and Mike Clevinger will get the starting assignments for the best-of-three opening round.
That means Chris Paddack and Garrett Richards will be working out of the bullpen, at least in the first round. Richards has already made two relief appearances this season.
Plus, the Padres will be looking to give some regulars a day off before the playoffs begin. Shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., NL Most Valuable Player candidate Manny Machado and center fielder Trent Grisham have played in all 54 Padres games.
Clearly, the Padres want to be ready for the playoffs.
“We’re not complete,” first-year manager Jayce Tingler said Sunday after the Padres clinched only their sixth playoff berth in the 52-year history of the franchise. “This is not the final goal. This was not playoffs and done. We know we’re capable of taking this thing.”
The Padres and Angels split the two games they played earlier this month in Anaheim. Neither of Tuesday night’s starters pitched in that series.
Davies, 27, has earned a decision in all 10 of his starts this season. His ERA and 1.01 WHIP are career-best marks. Opposing hitters are batting .206 against Davies this season with a .260 on-base percentage.
Davies has faced the Angels only once before, allowing two runs on five hits and three walks with three strikeouts in six innings in a start in August 2016.
Canning, 24, will also be making his 11th start of the season and will be facing the Padres for the first time in his two-season career. He has allowed 28 runs (24 earned) on 52 hits and 18 walks this year with 46 strikeouts in 50 1/3 innings. He has a 1.39 WHIP and a .269 opponents’ batting average.
This series also features some of the top players in the game — the Padres’ Machado and Tatis along with the Angels’ Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.
Machado is hitting .314 with 10 doubles, a triple, 16 home runs and 42 runs scored. Machado has a .376 on-base percentage plus a .604 slugging percentage for a .980 OPS and has played exemplary third base in addition to playing flawless defense while in short right in the Padres left-handed shift defense.
Tatis has a .278/.367/.565/.931 slash line and was also an MVP candidate until a recent slump.
Trout and Pujols are both three-time MVPs. Trout has a .292/.395/.611/1.005 slash line with 16 homers and 43 RBIs. On Friday, Pujols hit two home runs, giving him 662 to break a tie with Willie Mays and move into fifth place on the all-time list.
–Field Level Media