The San Diego Padres are deep in terms of starting pitching, or at least that is what most people believed before the start of the 2015 MLB season. The starting staff was supposed to be a strength for the team, but they have failed to pitch with any consistency. James Shields was brought into the staff to solidify and anchor it, but he has struggled from time to time allowing an unusually high 29 home runs this season.
Shields has had an off-year, there is no way to doubt that. His first time in the National League was supposed to produce exceptional numbers. His strike out numbers are up this season but so is his ERA and WHIP. Shields is 12-6 so far this season with a 3.80 ERA and a 1.326 WHIP. He has walked a career high 73 batters so far this season.
James Shields has been uncharacteristically wild both in the strike zone resulting in more home runs and out of the zone resulting in more walks. The numbers for Shields are troubling, but he should improve in his second season in the National League. That is if the Padres allow him to stick around and pitch for the team. His name was very popular around late July as most of the nation expected the Padres to do what they always do…. sell. The team instead held firm with their roster but that does not mean the roster will be tweaked a bit during the off-season.
Tyson Ross has the most secure spot on next years rotation. It is hard to imagine the Padres would move this young talented pitcher. He has two full seasons of control for the team, but they might want to consider re-signing him long-term very soon. Ross was reportedly coveted by a lot of teams prior to the trade deadline but the Padres wisely held on to him.
His slider is one of the best in the Major Leagues, but Ross has struggled with his command. His 79 walks lead all of baseball, but Ross still maintains a respectable 3.18 ERA. If he were to command his fastball and be more consistent with his release point, Ross could be a dominant Ace pitcher. Presently he owns a 10-10 record on the year with a 3.18 ERA and a 1.310 WHIP. In 187 innings Ross has struck out 194 batters.
Andrew Cashner will be headed into the last year of his contract in 2016. With that being said, he will be highly motivated to pitch exceptionally well. His 2015 season has been horrible as Cashner is 6-15 with a 4.25 ERA and a 1.428 WHIP. The silver lining in his 2015 campaign is that he has remained healthy the whole season.
Cashner has some electric stuff but for some reason he has never really been a huge strike out pitcher. In 173 innings this season Cashner has struck out 152. With his high 90’s fastball and excellent off speed stuff, he should easily strikeout a hitter per inning. Even more alarming is that his hit per inning rate has increased every year since his rookie year. Cashner has allowed 189 hits this season in 173 innings pitched.
With one year left before free agency, I believe the Padres will shop around Andrew Cashner in an attempt to gauge his value. If a team pays the price tag, the Padres will likely move on from the big Texan. He has previously shown a reluctance to sign long-term in San Diego, so the Padres would be wise to get full value for Cashner now.
Ian Kennedy is scheduled to become a free agent this winter. The Padres could offer him a qualifying offer which will be around $16 million dollars. If he declines and signs elsewhere the Padres get an extra first round pick in the tail end of the round. Scott Boras is Kennedy’s agent and he usually gets top dollar for his clients. The smart money says that Boras will look for a multi-year deal for Kennedy rather than taking the 1 year deal from the Padres. Still a developing story, so keep an eye on this one during the winter.
Colin Rea emerged this season and pitched fairly well in his Padres debut this summer. He went 2-2 with a 4.26 ERA and a 1.263 WHIP. With 26 strike outs and only 11 walks in 31 innings pitched, he got his feet wet in the Major Leagues and could be a major part of the Padres plans in 2016. Rea could slide into the role left by Kennedy very easily and the Padres will not be skipping a beat.
Odrisamer Despaigne probably does not figure in the teams plans. The team will likely designate him for assignment in the winter. The franchise has seemed to lost all confidence in Despaigne and it may be best for both parties if he moved on. Robbie Erlin got lit up in Colorado Friday night which did not bode well for his chances at a 2016 starting spot. Casey Kelly is an interesting option to keep an eye on for the 2016 season. Another very intriguing option is Brandon Maurer. He was flat-out filthy as a reliever this season but was over worked and that led to arm fatigue. He should be full strength for next season, so should the team stretch him out?
The free agent class for starting pitchers is very deep as well this winter. David Price, Jordan Zimmerman, Johnny Cueto, Scott Kazmir and even Zack Grienke (if he opts out) are scheduled for free agency. The Padres could get involved in a free agent or A.J. Preller could go hard after a pitcher via trade. Realistically, anything can happen and this off-season will be exciting for the San Diego Padres. The pitching staff will be changed. I have a hard time thinking the big three of Cashner, Ross and Shields will be in place for the 2016 season. At least one will probably be moved in an attempt to gain some semblance on this Padres squad. Stay tuned Padres fans. Stay tuned.