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Impact of potential Fernando Tatis Jr. return for Padres

We go over the fantasy baseball, betting and MLB playoff implications of the All-Star shortstop’s return to the Padres’ lineup.

Minnesota Twins v San Diego Padres
Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres plays during a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins July 30, 2022 at Petco Park in San Diego, California.
Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

Update — Tatis will be having zero impact on the Padres now. He’s suspended for the rest of the season and into 2023 after violating the MLB’s performance-enchancing drugs policy. Tatis won’t play for 80 games after testing positive for PED use.

There is finally light at the end of this season-long tunnel for San Diego Padres superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. Out since March due to a fractured left wrist, Tatis played in his first minor league rehab games over the weekend. He will likely need a lengthy ramp-up period after missing most of spring training, but barring any setbacks, he could make his 2022 MLB debut at some point in late August or early September, right in time for the fantasy playoffs. Let’s dig into what his return means for Tatis’ fantasy managers, the Padres’ betting outlook, and their playoff chances.

Fernando Tatis Jr. return date

Padres betting impact

Even if Tatis suited up for the Padres tonight, his presence probably wouldn’t create much movement in San Diego’s rest-of-season lines. The Los Angeles Dodgers hold an insurmountable 16-game lead entering Tuesday, meaning that the Padres’ only ticket to the postseason is a Wild Card spot. They currently hold the No. 3 Wild Card in the National League, one game ahead of the Brewers, one game behind the Phillies. But per DraftKings Sportsbook, they are more likely to make it to the playoffs (-475) than the team behind them (-190) and in front of them (-295). Tatis will make them heavier favorites in that category, but he probably won’t dramatically alter their pennant (+700) or World Series odds (+1400).

Fantasy baseball impact

Let’s say Tatis returns on Sept. 1. It’s a rough estimate — there is no official timetable from the team as to why he will be activated — but that would leave him with 30 games to play. Granted, he won’t play every game remaining on the slate once he’s active as the Padres will take it easy on him prior to the playoffs. So, let’s say you get 25 games out of Tatis the rest of the way. If he’s the superstar offensive player that we all know and love, that means he’ll probably provide his fantasy managers with 6-7 homers, 17-20 RBI, a small handful of steals with hopefully an average in the .280s. That would be great to have, but there is a big “if” to all of this.

A long layoff is one thing, but a long layoff following a broken wrist? You shouldn’t assume that Tatis will come back into the fold with all of the natural power he has showcased throughout his three-year career. He was one of the MLB’s leaders in hard-hit rate in 2020 and ‘21, but wrist injuries can sap a player’s power. And let’s not forget that his left shoulder, which popped out of place multiple times last year, still has not been surgically repaired. Ultimately, will fantasy managers be happy to have Tatis back in their lineups? Absolutely, 100 percent. Should we temper our expectations for him over the season’s final month? That would probably be prudent, yeah.

MLB playoff race impact

Well, it would frankly behoove San Diego to avoid the Los Angeles Dodgers in the divisional round. L.A. recently pulled off a three-game sweep of the Padres and are primed to get healthier down the stretch with the returns of Clayton Kershaw, Dustin May, Justin Turner and, possibly, Walker Buehler. Tatis would make San Diego more competitive, but there appears to be a sizable gap between the two NL West foes, one much wider than a single player can fill. However, San Diego can only miss the Dodgers in the NLDS if they finish as the No. 6 seed, which is where they reside right now. But Tatis — along with recent additions Juan Soto, Josh Bell, Brandon Drury and Josh Hader — should push the Padres beyond that point, meaning they will likely face the Braves in the best-of-3 Wild Card Round as either the No. 4 or No. 5 seed. All of which is to say that while Tatis’ return should make San Diego a cinch for the postseason, he probably won’t extend their stay beyond a best-of-5 Division Series against their rivals to the north.