9/23 Update: The Padres trail the Dodgers by 21 games for the NL West title. They lead the Philadelphia Phillies by 0.5 games for the second NL Wild Card spot. San Diego’s magic number heading into today’s game is at 10 to clinch a playoff berth.
In 1519, the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes destroyed his ships upon arrival in the New World. It was a clear message to his men that there is no turning back. That message — shortened to “burn the ships” — has suddenly become the slogan of the San Diego Padres’ push for the postseason. Here is their magic number to clinch a playoff berth entering Tuesday, Sept. 20.
Padres magic number
The Padres were the darlings of the trade deadline after getting their hands on Juan Soto, Josh Bell and Brandon Drury. However, all of those players have slumped with their new team. That coupled with Fernando Tatis Jr.’s suspension contributed to a sluggish August and a lifeless stretch of ball during September. This drew the ire of manager Bob Melvin, who criticized his team publicly on Thursday. The next day, that pithy message appeared on a clubhouse whiteboard, and the Padres went on to sweep the Diamondbacks. Coincidence? Only the final couple of weeks of the season will let us know for sure.
Entering Tuesday, the Padres hold the No. 2 Wild Card in the National League. They sit a half-game in front of the Phillies while the Brewers, on the outside looking in, are three games behind San Diego. If the Padres do make the postseason, they will have definitely earned it. They will close their regular season with series against the Cardinals, Dodgers and White Sox as well as a road trip to Colorado, which is never fun for pitchers.