San Diego Padres: Spring Training Preview: The Rotation

How is the San Diego Padres’ rotation shaping up as spring training begins? Cheri Bell makes her Friars on Base debut and breaks it all down.

Hello everyone!

I am new to Friars On Base and am excited to join all of you in following the Padres through the 2017 season. I’m a native of SD and a life long Padres fan. Yes, long suffering but hopeful that the new ownership regime will be able to deliver what none of the others have…. A World Championship.

The history of the Padres has featured some great pitching staffs. The pitching has usually outperformed the hitting but that seems to have changed.

This year’s rotation will be pulled from a group of castoffs, bargain free agents, and a couple of trades. The starting five last year quickly fell apart with injuries and under performance. The season ended with just Luis Perdomo as the lone holdover from Opening Day. And he wasn’t a starter to begin the year.

So, the most likely lock for this year is Clayton Richard. Acquired by waiver wire last season, the big left-hander performed ably when given the chance to start for the Pads. A fan favorite when previously part of the pitching staff, Clayton was mostly a reliever for the Cubs before his release. His 3-3 record and 2.52 ERA in 52.2 innings pitched was an eye opener for San Diego and earned him a one-year, $1.75 million contract for this year.

Yes, a small sample size but Richard was known for his high character and leadership when previously on the team. The young pitchers need a veteran with strong qualities to guide the way.

Jun 15, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres pitcher Luis Perdomo (61) pitches against the Miami Marlins during the first inning at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Jun 15, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres pitcher Luis Perdomo (61) pitches against the Miami Marlins during the first inning at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Luis Perdomo is another candidate highly likely to land a spot on the starting staff. He was a revelation last year, having jumped from Low A minors to the major leagues due to being claimed in the Rule V draft. His early season ERA was horrendous but the young (22-23) man hung in there and learned a sinker through the course of the season. He turned his game around. By the end of the year, he was the most valuable man on the staff. He will be given every chance to start but has options if he falters.

Sep 6, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Trevor Cahill (53) delivers a pitch during the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field. Chicago won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 6, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Trevor Cahill (53) delivers a pitch during the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field. Chicago won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Trevor Cahill– At 28 years old, Cahill has 7 years under his belt but has been predominately a righty reliever since 2014. And a very effective reliever with a 2.74 ERA in 65.2 IP last season. He will be given an opportunity in the spring but will have a relief spot waiting for him if he falters.

Sep 14, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher Jhoulys Chacin (49) delivers a pitch against the Seattle Mariners during a MLB game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 14, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher Jhoulys Chacin (49) delivers a pitch against the Seattle Mariners during a MLB game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jhoulys Chacin– A veteran of six seasons pitching for the Colorado Rockies, this right hander had success in that rarified air. Then he developed some shoulder issues and hasn’t been as successful since. He split last season between the Braves and the Angels with a 4.81 ERA in 144 IP. He signed with the Padres for 1 year and $1.75 million.

Jared Cosart– Acquired last season, this is a pitcher who had a good 2014 season with a 3.69 ERA over 180 IP and then minimal success since. It falls on pitching coach Darren Balsley to determine if any of these reclamation projects are a success and can be depended on for quality innings in 2017.

Christian Friedrich– A frustration last season, Friedrich shows signs of quality pitching and then can’t sustain it. Probably the reason he has been mostly in the bullpen during his career. His 4.80 ERA last season will need improvement if he wants to stick with anyone’s starting rotation.

Sep 27, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Tyrell Jenkins (61) delivers a pitch to a Philadelphia Phillies batter in the fifth inning of their game at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 27, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Tyrell Jenkins (61) delivers a pitch to a Philadelphia Phillies batter in the fifth inning of their game at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Tyrell Jenkins– This former top 100 rated prospect (#94, 2012-2013) has struggled to be consistent in his major league career. He has above average stuff but his control is lacking. Over the last three seasons he has been with four teams and waived twice during that time. He is a temptation to teams but it remains to be seen if the Padres can turn him around. He has options left.

Cesar Vargas– Some of you might remember the start of the 2016 season and how dominant Vargas was to begin the year. He started off so well, but soon developed a sore elbow and missed the rest of the season with a flexor strain. If healthy this spring, it will be interesting to see if this Mexico native can stick.

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Paul Clemens– This is another acquisition from last year for the Padres. Clemens shows flashes of good stuff but is not consistent, seems to loose his focus, becomes frustrated and then melts down. He also seemed to tire as the season went along. Seems better suited to relieving but will be given a shot during the spring.

Walter Lockett– At 22 years of age, Lockett had an amazing 2016 season. Starting the year in Low A Fort Wayne, this tall (6′-5″) right hander started 8 games and was dominant so was promoted to Lake Elsinore. There he started 10 games and went 4-3 with a 2.98 ERA. Sent to AA San Antonio, Lockett pitched to a 4-1 record and a 2.08 ERA.

Finishing the season in El Paso, Lockett finally slowed with a 1-2 record and a 4.50 ERA over 3 games started and 18 IP. That’s quite a load for a young professional athlete. Not the same as the leap Perdomo made but impressive nonetheless. Most likely he will start for the Chihuahuas for the start of the season but don’t be surprised to see him take a shot at breaking into the Padres rotation at some point soon.

Also remember, Robbie Erlin had Tommy John surgery last year and will be trying to make it back before the end of the 2017 season. We’ll see how that plays out for Lefty.

These are all the candidates on the 40 man roster but Erlin is still on there and could be moved to the disabled list to make room for another body. The same is true of Colin Rea, also on the 40 man at this point.

It will be a fun spring if only to watch as Andy Green and his staff whittle this group down to a starting five and some bullpen strength.

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