Passan: Padres are the second-best team in baseball if healthy

Jeff Passan previewed the 2020 MLB postseason, sharing his candid thoughts on the Padres, Astros, Yankees and Rays, among other teams

The DA Show
September 29, 2020 - 11:54 am

After missing the playoffs for 13 years in a row, the San Diego Padres (37-23) finished with the second-best record in the National League this season. Although they went 5-6 down the stretch, they ended the season on a three-game winning streak and could be extremely interesting in the playoffs.

“I think it depends if Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger are heathy,” ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan said on The DA Show, sizing up San Diego. “If you can get one of them – and I think Lamet is the likelier to pitch of the two – then yes, they’re super interesting. If you get both of them, I think interesting doesn’t suffice; I think they’re super dangerous at that point, and they may be the second-best team in baseball if they’ve got both of those starters.”

The Padres face the Cardinals (30-28) on Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET

The Astros (29-31), meanwhile, finished with a losing record this season and would not have made the playoffs if not for an expanded field. Did the Astros, who reached the World Series in two of the last three seasons, get exposed since they were unable to steal signs?

“They stunk,” Passan said. “I don’t know if that’s exposure. I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘The Astros didn’t do it because they weren’t banging on trash cans.’ No, I don’t think that Jose Altuve suddenly turned into a bad player because they weren’t doing sign-stealing. When you look at the past when they were doing the trash-can-banging scheme, Jose Altuve was not involved in it. 

“Now, admittedly, there are other ways to involve a player rather than banging on a trash can,” Passan continued. “And if anybody was going to find out how to do that, it was going to be the Astros. But I just think that that narrative – the Astros didn’t bang on trash cans; thus, they stink – has no basis in fact. It’s correlated, it’s not causative.” 

Still, Passan believes the Astros will have a tough time getting past the Twins (36-24), who had the second-best record in the American League this season.

“To me, what was so bad about the Astros was the fact that they lost Justin Verlander, their starting pitching wasn’t great, they had to break in a bunch of relievers – young guys, rookies – because so many of them got hurt, and they didn’t get good until like the middle of September,” Passan said. “But I just think they’re running into a Twins team that’s as dangerous as anyone in the American League outside of the Rays. While the White Sox have shown flashes and the Yankees have shown flashes, I think if anyone is going to unseat the Rays this year, it’s going to be the Twins.”

The Rays (40-20) had the best record in the AL and the second-best record in baseball. Passan likes them to return to the Fall Classic for the first time since 2008.

“I am picking them to go to the World Series,” he said. “They’re like the Dodgers without the stars. They’re just a really fundamentally sound team.”