The Padres are almost certain to return to the postseason this year, given that oddsmakers peg them to win 96 games.
If you’re uneasy with so much optimism, blame some of it on newcomer Blake Snell.
The pitcher spun a good ERA in all five seasons with Tampa Bay. His 1.89 ERA three years ago earned a Cy Young Award. That Snell overwhelmed the Dodgers in a World Series game just four months ago only brightens the outlook.
Snell is also interesting because of his similarities to top Padres prospect MacKenzie Gore. Will the young dude benefit? Will they pitch as Padres teammates in a postseason before Snell’s contract expires in three years?
Both leftes stand 6-foot-4, went high in the draft and skipped college. They throw four pitches scouts grade as better than average. The four pitches are the same: four-seam fastball, slider, curveball and change-up.
Snell’s accuracy fluctuated early in his minor league career. So did Gore’s last summer, when the pandemic confined him to pitching against fellow Padres minor leaguers. Amid his struggles to sync up his delivery, Gore saw Ryan Weathers — a lefty almost a year younger — earn a promotion to San Diego.
Gore, who’ll turn 22 this month, still has a lot to learn about himself, having thrown only 183 innings in official games since going third in the 2017 draft.
Put another way, he’s in the “hot lava” phase.