The San Diego Padres were one of the hottest teams in baseball this month. Now they are sole owners of the first place in the NL West. The Padres beat the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in four games on Thursday afternoon (SD 6, CHC 4), polygames ahead of the dormant Los Angeles Dodgers.
Here are the updated NL West standings. Every team in the division either already played on Thursday or has a day off, so here’s the standings at the end of the day:
- San Diego Padres: 41-24
- Los Angeles Dodgers: 39-23 (0.5 GB)
- San Francisco Giants: 35–26 (4.5 GB)
- Arizona Diamondbacks: 30-35 (11 GB)
- Rocky Mountains of Colorado: 27–37 (14.5 GB)
The Padres have won four games in a row, eight of their last 10 games and 11 of their last 14 games. San Diego won the series against the New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers in that stretch, 11–3. Meanwhile, the Dodgers went 5–6 during this time, and their four-game division lead evaporated. Nomar Mazara batted a two-run homer for the Padres on Thursday.
This marks the first time the Padres have single-handedly held first place at the end of the season since September 25, 2010, when they were polygames behind the Giants with eight games left in the season. San Diego lost five of those last eight games, finished two games behind San Francisco in the North American West, and missed the playoffs.
The 41-24 Padres have the best 65-game record in franchise history, beating 1998 (40-25) and 1984 (39-26). Those are the two seasons San Diego has won the National League pennant. The Padres have never won a World Series – they lost to the Detroit Tigers in five games in 1984 and lost to the New York Yankees in 1998.
Of course, the Padres still have 97 games left, and a half-game lead is nothing at this point. However, there is no shortage of talent in San Diego. They have a bona fide MVP candidate in Manny Machado and a deep starting rotation led by Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove. The Padres are not perfect, but they are very, very good. There is no reason they can’t fight for the NL West title.
FanGraphs puts San Diego’s chance of an NL West title at 42.5 percent., second only to the Dodgers in the division (49.5%). Both clubs have over 90% chance of making it into the expanded 12-team post-season field. The Padres were expected to be in contention for the World Series last year, but instead they went 79–83, including losing 34 of their last 46 games.
San Diego will kick off the three-game series against the Rockies at Corse Field on Friday night. The Dodgers will host the Cleveland Guardians at Chavez Gorge for a three-game home series. The Padres and Dodgers have 16 games left against each other this season, including four at Petco Park later this month.