The annual division champs got worse, but they still have enough to win the division. SP Julio Urias in his contract year along with ace Clayton Kershaw is a strong 1-2 punch and then there's their good bullpen (even without a set closer) and a still solid lineup anchored by 1B Freddie Freeman and RF Mookie Betts.
The San Diego Padres won 89 games last season and their rotation is lacking an ace. Yu Darvish is 36 and projected by Fangraphs for a 3.88 ERA. Joe Musgrove is injured and projected for a 3.73 ERA. Inconsistent and injury-prone Blake Snell is their best SP and he's projected for a 3.40 ERA and hasn't pitched over 128 innings since 2018. CP Josh Hader is coming off of a 5.22 ERA season that saw him traded by Milwauee; Fernando Tatis Jr. is now a RF who can't stay healthy and after missing all of last season is still serving his suspension for PED's; SS Xander Bogaerts lost his power and is now in a pitcher's park... The hype is there but they were lucky to beat the New York Mets in the NL Wild Card playoff series last year, and weren't expected to beat LA. They can still win this division, but LA is the safer pick.
Their rotation is heavily dependent on ace Zac Gallen and Merril Kelly; their bullpen is a mess and their lineup is potential breakout players and hopeful bouncebacks...along with 1B Christian Walker. This isn't a playoff team unless a lot goes right. Their bigest goal should be to secure third place away from San Francisco, whch should be possible but isn't a lock.
I'm surprised that this big market team continues to be cheap in the off-season and avoiding signing starting pitchers to multi-year deals. This team has a very average rotation, wih ace Logan Webb and a bunch of hopeful bounceback candidates. They have an average bullpen and a weak lineup. They're almost trying to be the Tampa Bay Rays, only worse in every way. They were amazingly lucky in 2022, but 2023 could be even worse than 2022.
Where do I even begin with this terrible team? Bad rotation? The average at best lineup? The weak bullpen? Their commitment to avoiding a rebuild is becoming legendary, but the lack of success is going string. Their bst hope is to avoid 100 losses.
FINAL NL POSTSEASON SEEDS
1. Atlanta Braves
2. Milwaukee Brewers
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
4. San Diego Padres
5. Miami Marlins
6. Philadelphia Phillies