A glimpse at the 2021 San Diego Padres starting rotation

Padres Chris Paddack

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

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Padres Yu Darvish
Credit: Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images

There are high expectations for the San Diego Padres 2021 starting rotation. Here is a look at the group.

It’s no secret that San Diego Padres general manager A.J. Preller went absolutely insane this offseason. He brought in Yu Darvish and Blake Snell to pair next to Dinelson Lamet and Chris Paddack.

Then he brought over Joe Musgrove to bookend the rotation, and he did all that without touching Ryan Weathers, MacKenzie Gore, and Adrian Morejon.

Sadly Luis Patino was sent out in the deal for Snell, but nonetheless, Preller has put together a terrific team on paper and the field.

Last time we reviewed how deep the bullpen is for the Padres. This time let’s review the rotation in a year in which the Padres are being heralded as a World Series contender.

Ace: Yu Darvish

The ace could be either Darvish or Snell, but let’s lean Darvish by a little bit for the sake of the conversation.

In the 2020 COVID-shortened season, Darvish recorded one of his best seasons as a pro in which he finished as the National League Cy Young runner-up for the Chicago Cubs.

He pitched in 12 games and tossed a 2.01 ERA in 76 innings with eight wins.

With the Cubs trying to shed salary, they sent him over to the Padres for, well, not much.

Darvish will be 35 years old in August but can still pitch the cover off of the baseball.

His stuff is nasty, and he can throw many pitches to keep hitters guessing. Here’s his spring training debut. How nice does Yu look in Padres’ brown?

Darvish has disgusting stuff and will be a perfect fixture atop this rotation for the next couple of years.

Blake Snell

Snell was pulled early from the World Series game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in what turned out to be his final appearance with Tampa Bay.

Preller started the extravaganza by dealing for Snell in a package that included Luis Patino, which was unfortunate for many Padres fans but necessary if the franchise wanted to get a Cy Young-caliber player like Snell.

Snell recorded a 4-2 record last year with a 3.24 ERA and went 6-8 with a 4.29 ERA the year prior. He was phenomenal in 2018 with a 21-5 record and an incredible 1.89 ERA in his AL Cy Young campaign.

His stuff is still excellent, and to be honest, he would be the staff ace on over half of the teams in this league. Unfortunately, the Padres acquired Darvish, and the Darvish-Snell duo is among the best in baseball.

More importantly, the Padres finally get a star southpaw to cement at the top of the rotation for the next couple of years while MacKenzie Gore looms closely.

Having Snell as the number two pitcher in the rotation almost seems unfair, and in 2022 the Padres will possess a three-headed monster of Darvish, Snell, and Mike Clevinger.

Dinelson Lamet

He was one of the best-kept secrets in the Padres organization, and he showed why in the 2020 season. Lamet was nothing short of fantastic and garnered some Cy Young attention in the shortened season. Ultimately, he finished fourth in the National League voting, behind Trevor Bauer, Yu Darvish, and Jacob deGrom.

Lamet was the best pitcher on the Padres last season, and that’s saying a lot with how good Zach Davies was for the majority of the year. Lamet finished with a 3-1 record and 2.09 ERA in 69 innings with 93 strikeouts.

He recorded a sub-2.00 ERA for much of the year and unfortunately got hurt before the playoffs, putting an end to the padres’ playoff run before it could really get started.

If he’s healthy, which the Padres are hoping for, they may have one of the best three-man rotations in the league.

Don’t forget. He will slide down to number four on the team with the return of Clevinger in 2022.

Chris “The Sheriff” Paddack

This one is a bit of a mixed bag for several reasons. In 2019, he came into the majors with so much buzz and lived up to the hype. He was electric, exciting, and could put his fastball wherever he wanted to.

He posted a 3.33 ERA with a 9-7 record and 153 K’s in his first big league season and was pegged as the future ace of the Padres.

However, his sophomore season was a lot different. He finished with a 4.73 ERA and a 4-5 record in just 59 innings and got beat up more often than not.

His biggest knock is learning a third pitch, and that’s something he set off to do in the offseason. It will be really interesting to see which version of Paddack the Padres get. If they can even get a glimpse of the 2019 version, it’s a scary sight for the rest of the teams in baseball.

Joe Musgrove

Preller didn’t stop with the acquisitions of Darvish and Snell this winter. He acquired Joe Musgrove from the Pittsburgh Pirates to seal up the end of the Padres’ starting five.

Musgrove was born in El Cajon and ecstatic for a chance to return to San Diego. Preller pulled the trigger, and Musgrove is a Padre.

The former Pirate had an above-average year in 2020 with a 1-5 record and a 3.86 ERA. Nonetheless, he’s the perfect addition for the backend of this Padres five and could provide meaningful innings with a stacked bullpen behind him to help out.

What happens with Musgrove in 2022 remains to be seen, but he’ll open the year as the fourth or fifth starter in what is shaping out to be one of the most well-rounded rotations in all of baseball.

The Rest

Adrian Morejon is pegged to be a stretch bullpen guy and has even been floated around as a potential sixth starter if they decide to go the six-man rotation route. His stuff plays really nicely. Just watch him down the stretch last season for San Diego.

MacKenzie Gore is waiting for his opportunity and should be up at some point this season, regardless of the health of the pitching staff.

He’s one of the most hyped-up prospects in all of baseball, and having him with guys like Darvish and Snell would be huge for learning purposes. However, who knows when he’ll be “major league ready” and get his shot to prove his worth.

All in all, the Padres possess a plethora of pitchers, and we haven’t even discussed names like Ryan Weathers or Reiss Knehr.

Either way, this pitching staff is talented and a scary sight for teams in 2021 and beyond, especially once Clevinger returns from his surgery.

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