Padres aggressively take aim at postseason

Everything has changed with the San Diego Padres.

The question: Have they added enough to their roster to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006, or even the World Series for the first time since 1998, the year they were swept by the Yankees?

As Monday’s trade deadline approached, the Padres were by far the most active team in the market. They fixed all their weaknesses: designated hitter, catching, the bullpen and the rotation.

They added DH Mitch Moreland from Boston, closer Trevor Rosenthal from Kansas City and catcher Jason Castro from the Los Angeles Angels. They also picked up two pitchers and another catcher, Austin Nola, from Seattle.

And, the biggest acquisition is starting pitcher Mike Clevinger from Cleveland. Clevinger has a 3.20 ERA in his five seasons for the Indians, with 10 strikeouts per nine innings. His fastball hits 96 miles per hour, and he’s got a wicked slider.

Clevinger, 29, is under contract through 2022 and gives the Padres a legitimate five-pitcher rotation. Before the trade, they used Chris Paddack, Dinelson Lamet, Zach Davies, Garrett Richards and an opener.

Now, Clevinger slides into the rotation to replace the opener. He’ll move to the top of the rotation.

The Padres were also thinking about trying to get pitcher Lance Lynn from Texas, but given that he’s four years younger, Clevinger is the better fit.

Clevinger lost favor in Cleveland after he violated COVID-19 protocol, and so he’s made only four starts this season.

The Padres have a strong offense, led by third baseman Manny Machado and shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. Eric Hosmer is hitting well and their second baseman, Jake Cronenworth, is one of the National League’s top rookies.

Trent Grisham, former Brewers outfielder who made the crucial error that allowed the Nationals to beat Milwaukee in the wild-card playoff game last season, is also a key cog.

The Padres went into Monday in second place in the National League West, five games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Led by pitcher Clayton Kershaw’s 1.80 ERA, the Dodgers have the lowest ERA (2.76) in the NL. The lineup is anchored by Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager and Mookie Betts.

At the least, the Padres will hold onto second place in the NL West. The intrigue will come if they play the Dodgers in the postseason.

Let’s hope that happens.