The next stop on the Cactus League trail is in Mesa, where many bettors gazing at the MLB odds has an interested eye on the Padres, who made moves in the off-season to become division contenders.
San Diego and the Chicago Cubs took different paths head into the 2015 season, but both are convinced their path is the right one for their organization this definitely got the attention of sportsbooks and MLB baseball handicappers alike.
Projected Win Total Un84 wins – 3rd in the NL West
The Padres went from one of the most vanilla franchises into one of the most anticipated to see how they perform. General Manager A.J. Preller shook San Diego down to its core and came in looking and expecting to win immediately. Start with the lineup card with will feature the likes of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, catcher Derek Norris and third baseman Will Middlebrooks. Manager Bud Black has to find a leadoff man somewhere in this mix of new and old and he’s on the hot seat to win, as the skipper is in the last year of his contract and has to produce a winner.
The offense has nowhere to go but up after averaging a baseball-worst 3.3 runs per game.
If the lineup clicks, the San Diego pitching staff had the second-best ERA in the National League in 2014 and their relievers were first in the same category at 2.70. Preller also added James Shields, Brandon Morrow and Brandon Maurer to the staff and brought in sometimes great or awful reliever Jose Velverde to the mix.
The Padres have the look of a boom or bust and Black has to avoid a slow start or this dynamic could implode. If the Friars take care of business against Arizona and Colorado, they will have the chance to surpass their projected MLB odds win total of 84 and finish second NL West.
Padres vs. Cubs Game Notes
The Pads picked up a dozen hits in the 6-3 win and Will Middlebrooks (crushed his) and Yonder Alonso went over the wall and Jedd Gyorko have a pair of base-knocks. The Padres only downside to hitting on this day was the 11 strikeouts San Diego totaled.
Former Cub Andrew Cashner threw three solid innings, not allowing a hit, walking one and striking out three. Velverde showed good velocity and movement in his one inning of work and non-roster invitee Jason Lane surrendered four hits and two runs and did not complete two innings.