Ode to a Pitcher: James Paxton attacks the A’s with fastballs

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James Paxton is one of the hardest throwing lefties in baseball. TED S. WARREN AP

James Paxton threw a no-hitter last season. It was a big deal for reasons beyond the obvious, namely that the aptly named Big Maple did the deed in Toronto, Canada.

He also struck out 16 in a start last season. If it’s possible for a pitcher with those exploits to go somewhat under covered, Paxton might be that guy. Hidden away on a struggling Seattle Mariners team and only managing around 160 innings due to his usual assortment of injuries, Paxton didn’t make a ton of waves.

Well, that’ll change this year. Paxton was traded to the New York Yankees last November, and with the Bombers missing ace Luis Severino, the spotlight will find the tall lefty in short measure.

Is he ready for it? Probably — the issue is whether he’ll be healthy. We know what he can do when he’s on the mound — a lot of strikeouts, too many home runs. Overall, it makes him an above-average starter with the potential to be more.

But we’re not so worried about all that today. No, we just want to study a pitcher being awesome. In Paxton’s 16-K decimation of the Oakland Athletics, he was just that — living off a hard fastball all over the zone, mixing in a nasty knuckle-curve and generally pummeling a pretty darn good team.

Let’s do it.


Marcus Semien (94 OPS+) is greeted with a Paxton fastball to open the at-bat. Paxton’s fastball is hard but actually lacks truly elite spin (54th percentile). It helps that he’s left-handed with such a fluid delivery, but alas, the numbers are the numbers. Herein lies the reason why Paxton allows so many home runs, by the way.

However: an upper-90s fastball is no picnic.

Semien fouls it off right against the hands.

Semien Pitch 1 FB

In today’s exchanges, Paxton does a good job moving the ball around, proving he can locate that fastball anywhere. Semien, with his rather compact swing, knocks another fastball foul to fall behind 0-2.

Semien Pitch 2 FB

So, Semien is down 0-2 against a dude about to strike out 16. You probably know what’s coming — but unlike so many previous pitchers we’ve profiled, Paxton doesn’t have a ridiculous breaking pitch to go with here. His curveball is pretty good, but not radioactive.

However, because of sequencing, Paxton has the full plate to work with. Sometimes it’s as simple as that, and when he shows Semien the cutter down, the A’s leadoff hitter can’t resist.

Three pitches, three strikes.

Semien Pitch 3 CT

Chad Pinder (113 OPS+) gets a look at the Paxton fastball, fouling it away. Paxton shows little fear of coming in on the righty bat, although neither Pinder or Semien are power threats. (One is coming, though.)

Pinder Pitch 1 FB

Pay attention to catcher Mike Zunino‘s glove. It barely moves. Breaking: well-located fastballs are hard to hit, guys, all the more so at this velocity. Pinder takes one inside for a called strike and Paxton has another hitter 0-2.

Pinder Pitch 2 FB

Notice how Paxton’s hand is hidden from the batter for so long? Deception goes a long way toward keeping hitters off balance and allows his other offerings to work. Hitting isn’t easy; Paxton’s delivery makes it harder.

An upper-90s fastball up in the zone makes it pretty close to impossible. Down goes Pinder.

Pinder Pitch 3 FB

Without spoiling it, I’d love to ask Paxton and Zunino about this Jed Lowrie (119 OPS+) at-bat. I have so many questions about their approach and pitch usage, in great part because I want to learn, but also because it was a bit puzzling.

Lowrie, despite quite the healthy hack, gets absolutely overpowered by Paxton’s fastball to open the at-bat.

Lowrie Pitch 1 FB

You can tell the big Mariner was feeling it. He’s struck out two hitters with fastballs and he just hammered one past the newest man in the box. What a feeling.

It’s not hard to imagine what Paxton goes with next.

Lowrie Pitch 2 FB

Paxton, sitting pretty in an 0-2 count, goes right back to the hard stuff again, but left it right over the zone and Lowrie makes solid contact … off of Zunino’s mask. Yikes.

He was fine, but this isn’t a good pitch, even despite the velocity.

Lowrie Pitch 3 FB

At this point, I begin to wonder why Paxton didn’t go offspeed. You’ve thrown Lowrie, a pretty solid hitter, three fastballs in a row. The last one he was almost on.

I certainly understand setting a batter’s eyes up in the zone so you can attack low. Hmm. Maybe I’m just not cut out to be a pitcher — breaking news — but going back to the fastball here feels a smidge risky.

Lowrie Pitch 4 FB

Now Paxton changes things up, going with the cutter. However, it was right over the plate — look where Zunino sets up — and Lowrie was able to knock it foul. Not a great pitch.

Lowrie Pitch 5 FB CT

Our first taste of the curve, Paxton changes the terrain but Lowrie takes it. Heck of a take. The breaking ball looks pretty good to my untrained eye.

Lowrie Pitch 6 KC

So now what? Paxton missed with the cutter and Lowrie took the curve for a ball. He’s fouled off each fastball he’s seen since the first one. Paxton is six pitches deep into the battle and the batter has seen the whole repertoire.

Ultimately, the big lefty goes back to the fastball but misses again and Lowrie deposits it into the outfield for a single.

I know this series is called Ode to a Pitcher, but let’s take a moment and appreciate what Jed Lowrie does here. He fends off fastball after fastball, all over the zone, after missing the first one. He adjusts to a cutter up and away and takes a nice curveball below the zone. Then, finally, when he gets a fastball right over the plate he flicks it into the outfield. That was his pitch and he handled it well.

Great piece of hitting.

Lowrie Pitch 7 FB

Now Paxton faces a major home run threat in Khris Davis (136 OPS+). I couldn’t fault you for thinking of, say, Aaron Judge or Mike Trout as the game’s premier power hitter, but Davis is at least in the picture and in fact, led the bigs in bombs last season.

If Paxton messes around this game will be 2-0 in a hurry.

With a runner on first, Paxton comes right at the Athletics slugger with a fastball that misses just above the zone.

Davis Pitch 1 FB

Big Maple, looking to balance the count, throws another fastball up and in. It misses and the count runs to 2-0, not great. But there is some value in the sequencing here. You don’t want a slugger like Davis feeling comfortable stretching out over the plate.

Davis Pitch 2 FB

Consider this as a Mariner fan. You watched Paxton blast away two hitters to open the inning. Man, Big Maple’s looking good today!

Then, he engages in this long battle with Jed Lowrie, pounding fastball after fastball only to lose. Okay. Not great, but no big deal. Just a single. Now, though, he’s working behind in the count against a true slugger. If Paxton has suddenly lost the zone — as pitchers do, even great ones — this inning turns from a lot of fun to a lot of yuck real quick.

This is a critical pitch. You can guess what the lefthander turns to.

(And, for the record, no I’m not sure why the previous fastball was a ball but this next one is a strike. Props to Zunino for yanking this fastball back over the corner, by the way.)

Davis Pitch 3 FB

Paxton’s worked fastballs inside the last two pitches. Probably don’t want to go back to that, so with the count 2-1 let’s consider the options:

  • Go outside with the heat
  • Move down in the zone with the curveball
  • Move up in the zone with the fastball or the cutter

Paxton chooses the first, delivering a hard fastball neatly on the outside corner that Davis can’t catch up to. Excellent pitch in sequence and a great look at the power of working both sides of the plate.

Davis Pitch 4 cleaner

Like a lot of sluggers, Davis pops plenty of homers but he also strikes out a lot (sixth most in the AL last year). While you might expect Paxton to break out that curveball here with the count 2-2, after so many fastballs, he doesn’t. The hard-thrower instead moves the fastball back inside and gets a called strike three to end the threat.

Davis Pitch 5 FB

This inning served for me as a great exercise in the power of a good fastball. Paxton barely turns to his offspeed pitches to attack the Athletics; instead, he works them with fastballs all over the zone, flashing velocity and command all the way. Unlike, say, a Max Scherzer who might pummel you with fastballs to set up the changeup, in today’s breakdown we see a pitcher able to set up and finish batters with just one pitch.

Pretty imposing stuff.


Paxton is a critical part of the Yankees rotation this year, especially with their ace on the injured list. How will he fare? He has the stuff to make a run at a Cy Young but given the change in ballparks (Yankee Stadium is far more hitter-friendly, thus exasperating his home run issues) and Paxton’s tendency to suffer through lots of minor injuries, might this acquisition end up faring more like Javier Vasquez (both times) or Sonny Gray? Every Yankee fan reading this just shuddered.

Probably not. Hard fastballs tend to travel and Big Maple has one — but he’ll certainly be facing bigger moments in pinstripes than he did out west.

Previous Ode to a Pitcher breakdowns:

Blake Treinen

Max Scherzer

Gerrit Cole

Chris Sale

Patrick Corbin

Jacob deGrom

Mike Mussina

Johan Santana

Pedro Martinez


2019 MLB Preview: Final predictions for Opening Day

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Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh man.

Guys …

Guys …


IT’S BASEBALL TIME! Our great winter of discontent has ended and it’s time to pop the mitts. Let’s commence the celebration with some final predictions and observations, starting with the playoffs.


American League

Wild Card: Boston Red Sox over Minnesota Twins
ALDS: Houston Astros (1) over Boston Red Sox (WC) in 4
ALDS: New York Yankees (2) over Cleveland Indians (3) in 5
ALCS: Houston Astros over New York Yankees in 5

The modern American League is just a damn bloodbath. The Astros, Red Sox and Yankees would all be commanding favorites in the NL. Alas, they are cursed to pummel each other. That Astros-Sox ALDS would be incredible. Please, baseball Gods, please give us a healthy Verlander-Sale matchup to open it. Please.

The Yankees were my original World Series pick before Luis Severino tweaked his shoulder. Look, maybe he’ll be fine and the early, early returns are okay, but yikes. Yikes.  Severino missing extended time changes the entire tenor of the Yankee season; the Bombers can’t replace their young ace. Yes, the offense should be potent — I expect an incredible year from Aaron Judge — and sure, the bullpen is straight out of Asgard, but I can’t do it. Severino is too important for them.

Ultimately, no one packs the punch of the Astros. This team is so talented and so smartly developed that picking against them, while not sexy, seems the smartest path. Even if Severino was healthy, my pick is the Astros.

National League

Wild Card: Colorado Rockies over Chicago Cubs
NLDS: Philadelphia Phillies (1) over Colorado Rockies (WC) in 5
NLDS: Milwaukee Brewers (2) over Los Angeles Dodgers (3) in 5
NLCS: Milwaukee Brewers over Philadelphia Phillies in 5

The Cubs are in store for a fun offseason next winter. Heck, this winter wasn’t fun either — did you know the Cubs are out of money? It even became fashionable to pick them to miss the postseason, and while I don’t see that exactly, the pitching rotation does feel like a shack ready to blow over. Another injury-plagued season from Kris Bryant and suddenly things aren’t quite as comfortable long-term either.

A part of me wants to say eff it and take the Dodgers to get back to the World Series again, but I just can’t. The fatigue of all these games the last few years and the concerns of Clayton Kershaw’s health was too much for me.

In the end, I’m riding with the Brewers because the combination of Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain and that bullpen are strong enough to ease my concerns over the rotation. This team can really play. Also, the playoffs are random and I like the idea of the Brewers getting another taste of the Fall Classic.

Too bad they’ll be facing a potential dynasty.

World Series: Houston Astros over Milwaukee Brewers in 5


AL MVP: Mike Trout

Let’s not get cute, okay? Aaron Judge will be great, Mookie Betts will be great. The AL has lots of great players. Pick the greatest.

Frankly, it bothers me that Trout only has two. I think this stuff kinda matters for the historical record. I hope he ends up with like four or five.

AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander

I want this. Look, I know this changes almost daily, but Verlander is my favorite pitcher. He’s just a modern marvel and I love him. An aging gunslinger who has barely lost a step is my kind of story.

Also: it kind of sucks that Verlander only has one Cy Young award, right? Feels wrong. Yes, I know, he has an MVP too.

AL Rookie of the Year: Baby Vlad, should the Baseball Gods bless us with his health and ample opportunity.

NL MVP: Corey Seager

He’s great and will be the principal reason why the Dodgers win yet another division crown. This is Seager’s team now and I can’t imagine a much better face for them.

NL Cy Young: Max Scherzer

Not getting cute here, either. Give me all the strikeouts. Also, a fourth Cy Young win for Mad Max puts him in some seriously rarefied air. Here’s the list of pitchers with four or more:

  • Roger Clemens (7)
  • Randy Johnson (5)
  • Steve Carlton (4)
  • Greg Maddux (4)

Padro Martinez, Sandy Koufax, Jim Palmer, Clayton Kershaw and Tom Seaver all have three.


NL Rookie of the Year: Fernando Tatis Jr. This might require the voters caring a lot about defense, but they should so there.

Random Observations

Presented in no particular order:

I think Yasiel Puig will be a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season for Reds fans. The team can’t compete, but Puig certainly can entertain. Keep an eye on whether Luis Castillo develops, too.

It’s possible the Indians will regret not cashing in Corey Kluber. I’m worried. Age and a lot of metrics aren’t on his side anymore. With Trevor Bauer around, they still have an absolute ace, but …

The Tampa Bay Rays will be really good. If they were in the other East, they might win it.

Pay attention to how the Red Sox use Chris Sale now that he’s locked into a longer deal. He’s fragile but ever so dominant. No need to push him until like August, really. The Red Sox are playing for championships, not division crowns.

If James Paxton throws more than 160 innings, he’s a serious Cy Young candidate on narrative, anyway. He’ll have a lot of runs at his back and a bullpen to lock in a bunch of wins.

I didn’t end up picking them to make the playoffs, but the Atlanta Braves should be an absolute blast to watch. Ronald Acuña, Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman are a heck of a trio.

There’s lots of Jameson Taillon for Cy Young chatter around the Baseball Internet. Wouldn’t it be wild if Chris Archer tapped into that sort of unrealized potential of his and nearly won it himself?

Part of my heart belongs to the San Diego Padres for not messing around — a la the Toronto Blue Jays, Cincinnati Reds and so many others — with their top prospect. Francisco Tatis Jr will be on the Opening Day roster. The Pads will be a heck of a watch.

What to watch today

We’ve got a couple stellar pitching matchups for Opening Day.

1:05 PM: Mets (Jacob deGrom) at Nationals (Max Scherzer)

4:05 PM: Astros (Justin Verlander) at Rays (Blake Snell)

4:10 PM: Indians (Corey Kluber) at Twins (Jose Berrios)



2019 MLB Preview: Astros rule the AL West, but the NL isn’t so clear

Justin Verlander and his Houston Astros are October-bound.

If you missed my other breakdowns, click here for the AL and NL East and here for the AL and NL Central.

The Houston Astros are pretty awesome, guys. Barring huge upheaval, they will win the AL West. That take will hardly get me on ESPN’s morning shows, but alas. Truth is truth. The boys in Texas have an excellent core of young talent, including the newly-extended third baseman Alex Bregman, former MVP second baseman Jose Altuve and former first overall pick, shortstop Carlos Correa. Oh, and a couple righthanded starters who pack some heat: Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole (who was the subject of an Ode to a Pitcher breakdown a few weeks back).

The NL West isn’t nearly as simple to peg. The Los Angeles Dodgers have been on top for awhile now, but with their ace battling arm trouble and some young talent dotting the rest of the division, suddenly things aren’t quite as secure.

AL West

1. Houston Astros

Goal: Win World Series
Most Important Player: Alex Bregman

I expect the Astros will miss Charlie Morton, who left to sign with the Tampa Bay Rays. Beyond Verlander and Cole, the rotation could prove troublesome for manager AJ Hinch. I expect Collin McHugh to turn into a quality starter without much issue, but will Wade Miley manage another sub-3 ERA with such piddling strikeout numbers? I doubt it.

Will it matter? Nah.

The Astros are both very talented across the roster and boast one of the savvier front offices in the sport. Don’t be shocked if they turn one of their fifth starter options into a valuable piece. (I’m a little surprised it wasn’t Joshua James.)

Much like with the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians the goal is nothing short of a championship. Those aces and that lineup make them the favorite.

2. Oakland Athletics

Goal: Win AL West
Most Important Player: Matt Davidson

Jurickson Profar was the man like few other prospects I can recall. Breaking into the Major Leagues at 19, he looked tapped for stardom. It just never happened; injuries, ineffectiveness and an unclear spot in the Rangers infield all seemed to play a role. But finally, years after he debuted, Profar turned in a pretty solid year: 108 wRC+, solid enough defense at both shortstop and second base.

He signed with the Athletics in the offseason, a sneaky good move for Billy Beane’s club after letting Jed Lowrie walk. While it’s probably unlikely Profar develops into the superstar he once flashed the potential to become, he could certainly still be an above-average player. Dude is only 26. He’s one to watch in 2019 and beyond.

Oh, and Blake Treinen is good. You should watch him too.

3. Los Angeles Angels

Goal: Make the playoffs
Most Important Player: Willie Mays 2.0

OK, Arte Moreno. I hope you are sitting down for this.

You locked up the world’s greatest baseball player until he’s nearly 40. Great work. In terms of on-field performance, he’s worth the money. He might be the best player who ever lived. He’s an incredible talent and by all reports, a great role model in the Anaheim community. You probably can’t design a better superstar.

Don’t screw this up. You hear me? Don’t screw this up. I don’t care what it takes, I don’t care what it costs you, you had damn well better get Mike freaking Trout to the World Series. Don’t you dare cry poor to me, Arte; we know the truth. Major League Baseball teams print money. I’m saying this to you as a fan of the New York Yankees. The idea of facing Mike Trout in October is petrifying.

Give me a reason to be afraid, Arte. The sport needs Mike Trout doing Mike Trout things in the postseason.

4. Seattle Mariners

Goal: Tank?
Most Important Player: Yusei Kikuchi

One could argue the Mariners’ most important player is actually Justus Sheffield, but I’m much more interested in Kikuchi. He had some really nasty moments in his debut against the Athletics last week and profiles as an above-average starter. He’s dealt with shoulder trouble in the past, but if he stays healthy he might end up surprising some people.

The Mariners were wise to trade second baseman Robinson Cano when they did. Cano had been pretty darn good for them, PED suspension notwithstanding. Edwin Diaz is a lights-out reliever, but including him to draw more out of the New York Mets was worth it. They might miss James Paxton a lot more, but then again I don’t think Sheffield is a big league starter.

Ultimately, the Mariners were smart to rebuild. Last year’s 89 wins were a little hocus pocus. The American League is a bloodbath as long as the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians and Astros are all great; that leaves one precious Wild Card spot to battle over. Credit to the Mariners front office for beginning to add to a depleted farm system.

The 2019 Mariners won’t contend, but the team is making the right choices to compete in 2022.

5. Texas Rangers

Goal: Tank
Most Important Player: Joey Gallo

You know, it can’t be said Joey Gallo isn’t exciting. If you’re in the ballpark and Gallo is up, your beer goes down and your eyes go up. Focus. He might crush a 450-foot bomb. There’s a great chance he’ll strikeout, of course — he was punched out 196 times in 2017 and 207 times last season. But when Gallo makes contact, he makes contact. Dude doesn’t get cheated. The power is incredible.

None of this makes him a great player, unfortunately. The defense isn’t good and the lack of contact keep his OBPs low. If he somehow clawed his batting average up, say, 15 points, the OBPs would get a lot more interesting. Alas, he is what he is; a fun slugger.  For a team that will struggle all season, Gallo is at least a reason to be invested.

The Rangers also have a farm system in need of more talent, but unlike Seattle, they lack veteran pieces that could deliver as much as Cano and Diaz. Might they deal Gallo? Shin-Soo Choo?

AL West Observations

Best Pitchers going into 2019 Best Position Players going into 2019
1. Justin Verlander 1. Mike Trout
2. Gerrit Cole 2. Alex Bregman
3. Yusei Kikuchi 3. Jose Altuve

NL West

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

Goal: Win World Series
Most Important Player: Corey Seager

Tick tock. Tick tock.

The Clayton Kershaw era in Los Angeles has certainly been full of winning — Cy Youngs, an MVP, a handful of division crowns and a couple deep playoff runs. But now, after consecutive defeats in the World Series, only one thing matters. Winning the World Series.

But might the clock be nearing midnight? With Kershaw battling injuries amid dropping velocity, one wonders. It’s not easy getting to the World Series at all, much less three years in a row. Walker Buehler’s emergence sort of mitigates the potential loss of Kershaw, but no rotation maintains its stature amid such a loss.

The lineup should be as good as ever, especially if Corey Seager returns to form after missing all of last season with an injury. I’m not especially confident about Austin Barnes and Russell Martin replacing Yasmani Grandal, but it’s a blow they can afford. This team won’t hurt for runs.

Be careful with Kershaw. Even if he’s not ready until June or later, the Dodgers should be strong enough to hang around in the NL West. For both the future Hall of Famer and the club, October glory means more than anything else.

2. Colorado Rockies

Goal: Make playoffs
Most Important Player: Nolan Arenado

When Dan Syzmborski’s ZiPS projections for the Rockies came out, he had this to say about the top of the Colorado rotation:

Going into last season, ZiPS thought that all five projected starters would be league-average or better and that’s pretty much what happened, though Kyle Freeland crushed his preseason projections to put up a legitimate Cy Young-esque season. ZiPS isn’t sold on Freeland being that good, but it is sold on German Marquez being a legitimate ace pitcher.

Freeland put up more than 8 wins above replacement last season. I doubt he’s that good, but for the sake of the Rockies I hope he’s not what ZiPS thinks either: 4.54 ERA. If Marquez pitches to his potential, as ZiPS believes he can (3.82 ERA), the Rockies could have quite the one-two punch. I’m a big fan of Marquez; give me all the strikeouts.

Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado are a pretty slick left side of the infield. I’m not sure anyone is too enthused about Ian Desmond in center field, but Charlie Blackmon wasn’t the answer either. This might have been a funky place for Billy Hamilton to sign. I might be the only one, but that thought made me smile. A big goofy smile.

3. Arizona Diamondbacks

Goal: Tank?
Most Important Player: Zack Greinke

I doubt it was a fun offseason for Snakes fans. The team traded the franchise’s greatest position player, Paul Goldschmidt, to the St. Louis Cardinals. The team watched two above-average players (Patrick Corbin and AJ Pollock) leave in free agency. That’s a bitter pill in any circumstances, but Arizona, having just won 82 games, profiled like a team with reason to build, not dismantle. The bottom 40% of the division is rebuilding and the Dodgers are showing some cracks.

But, alas.

One wonders if the teardown continues, perhaps with the exploration of a Zack Greinke deal (although the former Cy Young winner has a partial no-trade clause). No reason to hang around in the upper 70s in wins. The Snakes chose not to push for 90 wins; might as well tear it down to 72 or so.

The farm system is doing considerably better than in years past, which while hardly a solace for fans who watched so much talent exit the state, might be nice in a few years.

4. San Francisco Giants

Goal: Tank
Most Important Player: Buster Posey

It almost seems forgotten in modern baseball conversation, but the Giants won three championships in five seasons not too long ago. Heck, even considering it myself was a bit jarring: three titles in the last eight seasons? Wow. You employ Barry Bonds at the peak of his powers, manage one appearance in the Fall Classic and lose. He retires and two years later, bam. Championship.

Baseball is a weird sport. The Giants of today are in the midst of a slow rebuild. Flags fly forever — we must not forget that. One wonders, though, if the Giants are willing to go full Houston Astros and sell off every decent piece available. The Madison Bumgarner rumors abound, and I’m sure the front office would love nothing more than a kickass first half from the lefty who once terrorized the Kansas City Royals. Either way, probably smart for the team to cash him in. Same with Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford. Crawford especially could be a valuable piece.

The much more gut-wrenching choice would be former MVP Buster Posey. I’m not sure I could pull the trigger on that one.

5. San Diego Padres

Goal: Get ready for 2021
Most Important Player: Manny Machado

Someone finally signed Machado, quite the shrewd move for both team and player. Machado got his money and the Padres got a middle-of-the-order slugger who should be able to man third base for half a decade or more, alongside prized prospect Fernando Tatis Jr at short. The depth extends past Tatis, too; the Pads finished first in Keith Law’s team rankings. It might not become clear this season, but the future looks bright down in Southern California.

If Tatis Jr becomes a star and Machado holds his value — an if, but not necessarily a big one — the Padres have a foundation to really work with. Given ownership’s willingness to spend in doling out the Machado (10/300) and Hosmer (8/144) deals plus the potential of that aforementioned farm system, optimism is founded. But one must remember the 2018 team nearly lost 100 games. There is plenty of work to be done.

NL West Observations

Best Pitchers going into 2019 Best Position Players going into 2019
1. Zack Greinke 1. Nolan Arenado
2. Clayton Kershaw (out of respect) 2. Manny Machado
3. Walker Buehler 3. Justin Turner