The most exciting team in baseball is in danger of missing the 2021 postseason.
The San Diego Padres seemed like a lock to make the playoffs for a good chunk of the year, but the landscape has shifted lately.
San Diego still holds a playoff bid today, but there is definitely a feeling of uncertainty regarding the team’s trajectory.
As it stands now, the National League West would send three teams to the postseason: the San Francisco Giants, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Padres.
That could change by the time the regular season comes to an end in about two months.
Let’s take a look at what we mean by that.
The Cincinnati Reds Are Making Things Interesting In The Wild Card Race
With the Giants sitting atop the National League West, the Dodgers and Padres hold both of the Wild Card bids in the NL right now.
The Dodgers have a reasonably big cushion for the first Wild Card spot, but the Padres have just a three-and-a-half game lead over the next-closest team—the Cincinnati Reds—for the second Wild Card Spot.
San Diego shouldn’t get too comfortable.
The Reds are playing like they have something to prove, and that’s the type of club that is a nightmare to deal with.
Cincy has won 10 of its last 13 games.
One thing is certain: The Reds have the necessary talent to stage a playoff push.
Castellanos has a .945 OPS, 137 OPS+, and 19 home runs.
Winker has a .946 OPS, 138 OPS+, and 23 home runs.
— Bally Sports Cincinnati (@BallySportsCIN) August 8, 2021
Votto has a .924 OPS, 132 OPS+, and 23 home runs.
Ultimately, those players’ respective value statistics might sink their MVP hopes, but there is no denying that they are all producing at an absurd clip.
The team also has a ridiculous rookie talent in Jonathan India (.862 OPS, 13 homers, 19 doubles).
As far as pitching goes, the Reds’ rotation is mediocre but serviceable.
The staff is capable of stepping up down the stretch.
However, when you look at the team’s bullpen situation, things get dicey.
Cincy lacks reliable relief options, and if the Reds ultimately miss the postseason, the bullpen could be to blame.
Predicting The Future
The Padres and Reds won’t play each other again in the regular season.
If anything, that benefits San Diego, as making up ground is made much easier in head-to-head matchups.
The Reds have a lot of work to do.
But there is one major factor at play that we haven’t talked about yet: remaining strength of schedule.
Cincinnati has a big-time edge in this department.
The Reds’ remaining schedule is the second-easiest in all of baseball.
Meanwhile, the Padres are going to have to deal with the second-toughest remaining slate in the Majors.
The dominoes seem to be falling the Reds’ way, and the Padres are going to have to dig deep if they want to maintain their Wild Card lead.
CBS Projections have the Reds at 87.9 wins and a 41.6% chance of making the playoffs
They have the Padres at 87.4 wins and a 47.9% chance of making the playoffs
— GML (@Redsfan1150) August 10, 2021
This will be a fascinating race to monitor down the stretch.