After dominating regular season play for the past eight seasons, the Los Angeles Dodgers finally ended their World Series drought with a title over the Tampa Bay Rays. Despite clearly being the best team in baseball, the task to defeat them next season may not be as complex as it appears. Just devise a plan that will work in a best of five or best of seven series.
It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. After all, the Miami Marlins designed a team in 1997 to take down the Atlanta Braves, who steamrolled through the NL for most of the 1990s. The Red Sox overcame a 3-0 deficit against the New York Yankees in 2004. Both the Marlins and Red Sox went on to win the World Series.
The Dodgers aren’t showing many signs of decline with a team that features stars like Cody Bellinger, Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, and top of the line starters in Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw. Much like the examples with the Marlins and the Red Sox, the Padres are in the same division with the league powerhouse at the moment. A good thing about the San Diego Padres young club is that they don’t appear intimidated by the Dodgers last year. After getting swept by the Dodgers in the playoffs, the Padres must try to figure out a way to expose any weakness the Dodgers may have. Granted that is like trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack, but there is one area where the Dodgers aren’t best in the league.
Note that the Dodgers were 4th in the league against left-handed pitching but a league-best against right-handed starting pitching. The Rays’ Blake Snell dominated the Dodgers through six innings in Game Six of the World Series. The Padres have a great deal to offer in a trade, and landing Snell would immediately improve the Padres chances against the Dodgers both during the season and in the post season. The Padres also have a very good offensive team with the likes of Fernando Tatis Jr, Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers, and Manny Machado in the lineup. In fact, they were third in the Major Leagues behind only the Dodgers and Braves in runs scored.
The strategy last season to acquire players before the trade deadline was all to try and derail the Dodgers. Although it didn’t work, a blueprint has been set and the Padres must continue to explore ways to match up with the Dodgers in a playoff series. The San Diego Padres don’t have the type of financial stature to compete with the Dodgers in signing the highest-priced players. However, the Marlins and the Red Sox didn’t either compare to the Braves and the Yankees we all know how that turned out. The Padres have a window, perhaps not a large window, but it’s open and we’ll see if they take make the most of it.