Don’t get it twisted. The Padres are a good baseball team. Very good.
But they aren’t the Dodgers.
Not even close.
Barely a week after clinching a playoff berth on the third-to-last day of the season, the Phillies are suddenly even money to reach their first World Series since 2008 after the Padres eliminated the vaunted Dodgers with a five-run rally in the seventh inning to set up a championship series showdown between the National League’s two lowest-seeded wild cards.
The Dodgers had entered the postseason as presumptive World Series favorites after winning a franchise-record 111 games in the regular season. With the National League’s second-largest payroll and a roster that includes four former league Most Valuable Player Awards, they and the Mets were the two biggest reasons to doubt whether the Phillies were true World Series contenders.
Now, the league’s top four seeds will be sitting at home as the Phillies and Padres square off in a best-of-seven series with the winner advancing to the World Series.
San Diego was one of the biggest stories in baseball over the second half of the season after an aggressive trade deadline performance in which they added the brightest young star in the sport in slugger Juan Soto plus a trio of other upgrades.
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But the Padres’ big trade deadline acquisitions did not have the second-half impact that many expected.
Soto, who finished second in NL MVP voting in 2021, hit just .236 with a .778 OPS and six home runs after the Nationals traded him to San Diego alongside first baseman Josh Bell. At the time of the deal, Soto had an . 894 OPS and 21 home runs. Bell also struggled, hitting just .192 with a .587 OPS in 53 games with the Padres after leaving Washington with a .301 average and .877 OPS.
The story was very much the same for marquee closer Josh Hader, who posted a 7.31 ERA in 19 appearances down the stretch for San Diego.
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The Padres went 29-27 in their last 56 games, spending much of September battling with the Phillies and Brewers for Wild Card position. San Diego finished the year just two games ahead of the Phillies in the standings.
Sports books have the Phillies and Padres as a 50/50 proposition. Caesar’s Sportsbook had both teams at -110 to advance to the World Series, while FanDuel had it at -115 as of Sunday morning.