For the Padres, 2019 was supposed to be a year of revival. They had finally brought up many of their top prospects and brought on players like Manny Machado to be the backbone of the teams. Unfortunately, they ran into a number of issues which lead to them going 70-92 including only winning one of their last 10 games of the season.
The hope in San Diego will be that one of their better units, the pitching staff, will continue to grow into one of baseball’s best. Last season saw them going with one of the youngest units in the MLB. Even though four of their five main starting pitchers were either in their first or second year, they still found success. Now Eric Lauer is with the Brewers but not without a nice piece being added.
Here is a look at what their rotation may be if the 2020 season is not fully canceled due to COVID-19.
1.) Chris Paddack
He’s young, electric, is nicknamed Sheriff and most importantly, this kid is really good at throwing baseballs. In his rookie season, Chris Paddock proved that the hype was as real as anyone’s has been in quite a while. The fact that he played so well and still was not a finalist for rookie of the year is a bit disappointing but he could improve and try for a Cy Young this season.
Of all the stats that truly matter, Paddack performed above average in nearly every single one of them. He struckout over a batter per inning, had a WHIP of .981 and did not walk many batters. They only thing he struggled with was homeruns. Of the 107 hits he gave up all season, 23 were homers. If he can get this stat down, especially considering he pitches in San Diego, this kid could have an incredible season.
San Diego have their ace of now and the future and incredibly, Paddack is still only 24.
2.) Zach Davies
The fact that the Padres were able to get Davies and a solid prospect for as little as they did is pretty impressive. When healthy, which is three of the last four seasons, his combined stats are 38-23 with a 3.81 ERA and a 1.295 WHIP. To say he has been a stalwart part of the rotation would be an understatement. Now pitching in San Diego should only help.
Davies is still only 27 despite being in the MLB since he was 22 making him a veteran in this rotation. He does walk a few too many batter averaging over 50 a season and struggles to go deep into games but that is still what is so good about Davies. If he can work deeper into games and worry less about strikeouts and more about pitching to contact, he could continue his trend towards being a top tier pitcher.
Considering he is not a free agent until 2022, there is plenty of time for San Diego to lockdown what should be pinnacle piece of their rotation for years to come.
3.) Garrett Richards
Garrett Richards is a name that many people from LA would groan about. This is because he went from having back to back incredible seasons and then injuries have limited him to 31 starts over the past four seasons. The sad thing is that even in those shortened seasons, people can see glimpses of excellence.
Statistically, he can be a guy with a mid to low threes ERA who strikes out plenty of batters. His problem has always been control as he regularly leads the league in Wild Pitches. This also leads to plenty of walks. But the crazy thing is that he does not give up many hits or homeruns so most of the time it does not matter.
As he gets older, Richards will be looking to prove that he can finally stay healthy and become a major part of the backbone of this rotation. If he can then NL and AL west teams should be weary of the top of this Padres rotation.
4.) Joey Lucchesi
Another one of the young San Diego prospects, Joey Lucchesi is very close to a breakout season. One can tell that he has the stuff but even the statistics back this up. He is a kid who can strikeout anyone and while he still walks a decent amount of batters, he still rocks an average WHIP of 1.253.
Overall he has kept his ERA down in the low fours for both of his first seasons. He still gives up a few too many homeruns with 23 in both seasons. But where he needs to improve more is pitching deeper into games, similar to many Padres pitchers. He averages about 5 to 5 1/3 innings per outing. For a pitcher of his talent, he needs to make this a focus.
If Lucchesi can start to put more pieces of the puzzle together, then he could quickly become the number two pitcher on an already solid staff.
5.) Dinelson Lamet
Here is another interesting case. Dinelson Lamet is someone who has top-level stuff. While this can be said about plenty of pitchers in this rotation, none of them are striking out nearly 13 batters per nine innings. Those types of numbers over a full season can put him in the running for the top of the strikeout charts and even potentially for Cy Young consideration.
The issues with Lame are that he still walks too many batters and he has never been able to play a full season. In 2017 he pitched in 21 games, in 2018 he missed due to injury and 2019 only saw him in 14 games. Given a full season, he like many pitchers in this rotation could be someone to watch for.
Look for Lamet to get the fifth spot in the rotation but he could challenge anyone who starts to slip for more innings and a spot in the Playoff rotation should the Padres make it.
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