San Diego Padres Fantasy Superlatives: Manny Machado on Comeback Trail

Manny Machado's small step back in 2019 sets the table for a comeback. SI Fantasy expert Shawn Childs highlights more need-to-know sleepers, values & more among his San Diego Padres superlatives.
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Breakout: SP Dinelson Lamet

In 2018, San Diego Padres starting pitcher Lamet blew out his right elbow in March, leading to TJ surgery in April. He has a 3.21 ERA over 322.1 innings in the minors with 369 strikeouts. His walk rate (3.7) was a problem in the minors and posted the same value in the majors in 2019.

Over 14 starts last year (4.07 ERA and 105 Ks over 73 innings), Lamet battled home runs (1.5 per nine) with an elite strikeout rate (12.7). He never allowed over four runs in any game. His success ended with three double-digit strikeout games (10, 14, and 10).

Lamet pitched well against right-handed batters (.208 BAA) while improving vs. lefties (.242). His AFB (96.0 had plus velocity, but batters smashed his four-seamer (.340 BAA) and sinker (.319 BAA). His slider (.116 BAA) was electric, leading to 77 of his 104 strikeouts over 129 at-bats. He barely throws a changeup (under 1.5 percent of the time in 2019).

Fantasy owners will gravitate toward his success in strikeouts on draft day, but the command of his fastball will get him in trouble when pitching from behind in the count.

Live arm with upside, but his WHIP will trail his ERA until he threw more strikes and develops a reliable third pitch. With 160 innings pitched, I expected a sub 3.50 ERA with 175-plus strikeouts. His ADP (125) seems reasonable based on his potential upside.

Sleeper: SP MacKenzie Gore

The Padres drafted Gore with the third overall pick in the 2017 June Amateur Draft out of high school.

After a down 2018 season at A Ball (4.45 ERA), while battling blister issues, his arm shined last year. He dominated over 15 starts at High A (7-1 with a 1.02 ERA and 110 strikeouts over 79.1 innings) while allowing just 36 hits. A push to AA led to some regression in his stuff (4.15 ERA and 25 Ks over 21.2 innings).

Gore has mid-90s fastball plus three other offerings (slider, curveball, and changeup) that project to be assets in the majors.

Chris Paddack had success in 2019, and the Padres were willing to push him, but Gore is only 21, and the Padres may be a year away from being in the playoff hunt.

He has an ADP of 297 in the high-stakes market, which means fantasy owners believed he would pitch in the majors in 2020 in the early draft season. Most follow with the arm to come fast.

Comeback: SS Manny Machado

The move to San Diego led to 83 fewer RBI chances in 2019 while also seeing a step downward in his contact batting average (.327).

The change in the strength of the overall shortstop pool (he has move value at short) led to Machado ranking 12th in SIscore (0.16) at the position while being a top-three option drafted in 2019.

His walk rate (9.8) came in strong for the second straight season, but he did finish with a career-high in his strikeout rate (19.4).

Machado played well against lefties (.315 with 13 HRs and 27 RBI over 127 at-bats).

After the All-Star break, his bat lost value (.242 with 30 runs, 12 HRs ad 27 RBI over 256 at-bats).

Machado had the 72nd highest hard-hit rate (43.7) while maintaining a balanced swing with some growth in his HR/FB rate (16.8).

His ADP (61) puts him in a more attractive area. Buy this veteran bat based on his ability to be in the lineup every day and his production in power. I expect more RBI chances in 2020 and a rebound in batting average.

Value: OF Wil Myers

After two strong seasons (.251 with 179 runs, 58 HRs, 168 RBI, and 48 SBs over 1,166 at-bats), Myers battled an oblique injury and a left foot issue in 2018, leading to 79 missed games and two trips in the IL. In April, June, August, and September, he only had four combined HRs with 16 RBI.

His natural progression should have led to a rebound last year, but Myers struggled to make contact (strikeout rate – 34.3). In 2016 and 2017, his strikeout rate (25.7) was much lower while still having risk. He did maintain his walk rate (10.4) in 2019.

Myers hit .231 with 27 runs, 10 home runs, 21 RBI, and 6 steals over 173 at-bats in April and May, but his 72 strikeouts led a part-time role for the remainder of the year.

He did play better in September (.312 with three HRs, 12 RBI, and four SBs over 77 at-bats).

His contact batting average (.390) was a career-high with a pullback in his average hit rate (1.750) from his top season (1.906 in 2017).

In 2017, Myers ranked 52nd in SIscore (3.03). This year he’ll be drafted as the 166th hitter with an ADP of 272.

Playing time is a concern, along with his direction. I’ll say this; a fantasy owner won't find many 20/20 type players at this level of the draft. Please keep an open mind while making sure to cover his batting average risk.

Deep Sleeper: OF Josh Naylor

Naylor came to the majors via a first-round draft pick in the 2015 MLB June Amateur Draft. Over five seasons in the minors by the age of 22, he hit .288 with 50 home runs, 271 RBI, and 27 stolen bases over 1,742 at-bats.

He showed growth in power in 2018 at AA (.297 with 17 HRs, 74 RBI, and five SBs over 501 at-bats).

His fast start at AAA last year (.314 with ten HRs and 42 RBI over 223 at-bats) led to his first experience in the majors.

In the minors, his strikeout rate (14.4) was low, with a league average walk rate (8.4). In San Diego, Naylor hit .249 with eight home runs and 32 RBI over 253 at-bats while posting a 22.9 percent strikeout rate.

He’s a big guy (5’11’ and 250 lbs.), but Naylor hasn’t unlocked his power yet. His bat control and approach grade well. His future is at first base, but he was expected to find at-bats in the outfield for San Diego in 2020. The addition of the DH in the National League should be a big win for Naylor's playing time.

Upside bat, he may be a year away from being a full-time starter in the majors. I could see a future .280/30/100 hitter here. 

READ MORE: 2020 San Diego Padres Fantasy Team Preview