Under the leadership of General Manager, A.J. Preller the strategic changes the San Diego Padres organization have made have always shown commitment.
Whether it was “Prellerpalooza” ahead of the 2015 season, the prospect haul of the 2016 season, or aggressively exceeding the international budget for players, the San Diego Padres under Preller have always had clear direction. Of course, the direction has changed a lot in Preller’s two and a half season tenure.
This time it looks as though Preller is going all-in on the worst rotation to start a season in recent memory.
In Call To The Pen’s Padre preview, Joe Favia predicts a 60-102 record for the Padres. Fangraphs isn’t much more optimistic predicting 66 wins for 2017, finishing 30th out of 30 teams. The bright spots Padre fans can point to are Wil Myers‘ team-friendly contract and a young outfield with plenty of potential in Manny Margot, Travis Jankowski and Hunter Renfroe. Notice there is no mention of pitching.
Now, the thought might have crossed many fan’s minds that their team’s rotation to start the season is probably the worst in baseball but considering some of the talent in most teams’ rotations, is there a MLB GM who would even consider trading their team’s entire rotation for the one through five starters of the Padres?
Let’s work through the highlights of the other rotations that fit in the 26th best and below category. The Milwaukee Brewers have a talented starter in Zach Davies who is only 23, and unearthed Junior Guerra, who owned an ERA under 3 (2.81) in 20 starts last season.
Anthony DeSclafani and Brandon Finnegan are young pitchers with upside that at least have decent statistics for the Cincinatti Reds. Ervin Santana and Phil Hughes (recovering from thoracic outlet syndrome) won’t embarrass themselves in most starts for the Minnesota Twins and although he was roughed up in the major leagues in 2016, Jose Berrios is still a highly-regarded prospect with ace potential.
In Anaheim, the Los Angeles Angels essentially have five No.4 starters with Garrett Richards coming off Tommy John surgery, Tyler Skaggs and Matt Shoemaker being decent starters and Ricky Nolasco doing surprisingly well when he joined the team late last season. None of the GMs on these teams would trade rotations with San Diego.
The Padres rotation can’t be that bad, can it? Unfortunately for fans in America’s Finest City, it can. After being released by the Chicago Cubs, Clayton Richard pitched well in San Diego, going 3-3 with a 2.52 ERA in nine starts (that had no playoff implications for San Diego), which makes him the de facto ace of the Padres’ rotation. Trevor Cahill is a former 18 game winner, but that was in 2010 and his stats have not approached anything close to his age-22 season since.
One positive about Jhoulys Chacin is he knows the NL West well having pitched mostly for the Colorado Rockies and a season with the Arizona Diamondbacks in his mostly mediocre career, but sports a winning percentage of .447. Jered Weaver is a new signing moving down the I-5 from Anaheim to San Diego after pitching for the Angels since 2006.
His diminishing velocity where his fastball was clocked (with a sundial) at 78-miles an hour regained five miles or so on it once the games started to matter in 2016 but Padre fans should not expect to see the Weaver of three top-five appearances in AL Cy Young voting from earlier this decade as his ERA was over 5 last season for the first time in his career.
The fifth starter will either be Christian Friedrich or young Luis Perdomo, a Rule V pickup that pitched San Diego’s only complete game in 2016 and had an ERA last August of 3.24 in five starts. His ERA overall for the season was 5.71.
Pitcher’s haven Petco Park might mask the lack of pitching talent somewhat, but overall, Padres fans should be excused for looking ahead as barring a trade or another change in direction, the best pitcher the San Diego faithful will see throwing for the home team will be teenage prospect Anderson Espinoza, who will likely start the 2017 season for the Lake Elsinore Storm (High-A).