The starting pitcher has a huge impact on any baseball game, no matter the level. As you cannot win without a formidable starting rotation.
In today’s game, the lineups all across Major League Baseball are built around bigger, stronger and more powerful hitters compared to professional baseball long ago.
The 2017 season was a prime example of this surge in offensive talent across the baseball landscape. Offensive records were broken and more teams showed they like to live and die by the long ball. Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, this list goes on as we start to see the emergence of more young adept hitters.
Starting pitching cannot be forgotten with the new effectiveness and skill of today’s offensive players. The starting rotation is oftentimes in the formula for a winning team securing a spot in the playoffs.
If the San Diego Padres want to compete for the playoffs in 2018 and beyond, their starting rotation must improve.
The Padres finished near the cellar in almost every starting pitching category in 2017 and this year may be the same.
Most of the Padres pitching from last season will be returning to San Diego. Jhoulys Chacin has yet to sign with a team in his free agent year. A return to San Diego could be a possibility. Andy Green and Darren Balsley want consistent and reliable pitchers who can eat innings and carry a full workload across the 162-game season.
Here are the potential options for the San Diego Padres starting rotation in 2018 with some analysis on each player.
Dinelson Lamet is almost guaranteed to win one of the starting rotation jobs in the 2018 season after dominating his rookie campaign. Lamet is considered by most people to be the current ace of the San Diego Padres pitching staff. That should change here in the next year or so as the prospects arrive. After being signed by San Diego in 2014, Lamet quickly progressed his way through the minors posting dominant numbers down in the farm levels. His minor league career was a very good one, as he went 20-20 overall with a 2.99 ERA and 336 strikeouts across 298 1/3 innings pitched.
During his ML debut on May 25th, 2017 he dominated using his lethal slider and four-seam fastball against the Mets in New York. His velocity on his fastball and movement on his slider are good enough to be plus pitches at the major league level. The rookie fought some ups and downs with his control and tendency to walk batters, but grew as the season progressed. In the future, Lamet is going to need to improve in those areas and develop a third pitch. He finished his stellar rookie season going 7-8 with a 4.57 ERA, while striking out 139 batters in 144 and 1/3 innings pitched. Keep an eye on Dinelson Lamet during spring training, as he will continue working on improving his consistency and control for 200+ innings in 2018.
Luis Perdomo has now completed two full seasons with the Padres in which he was both dominant and inconsistent at the same time. Since coming over to the Padres from the Cardinals he has shown solid stuff throwing an above average sinker, a wipeout slider and solid movement on his four seam-fastball. When he’s pitching at his best, Luis Perdomo has the potential to be one of the best groundball pitchers in all of baseball. Moving forward, Perdomo must improve his consistency and location if he wants to be considered a nominee for the Padres rotation after this season.
In 2017, he went 8-11, with a 4.67 ERA and 118 strikeouts across 163 and 2/3 innings. He was very hittable during stretches and failed to get outs when they were needed. While he primarily relies on getting ground ball outs, it was evident that Perdomo needs to work on his consistency in finding his spots and control of his sinker. He was very hittable in starts where he failed to get outs with runners on base. Luis Perdomo has the potential to be one of the best pitchers in the Padres rotation, but his control issues and inconsistency are huge concerns for his future. The time is now for Luis Perdomo as he should compete in spring training to take on another full season workload in 2018 as the 4th or 5th starter.
Matt Strahm has yet to throw a pitch for the San Diego Padres. He was acquired last July, after being traded from the Kansas City Royals. He was sent to San Diego along with Travis Wood and highly regarded infield prospect Esteury Ruiz. Strahm injured a patellar tendon in his left knee two weeks prior to the trade forcing him to undergo season ending knee surgery in 2017.
Before making the trade, A.J. Preller viewed Strahm as more of a reliever, but it should be noted that he will be given the chance to start in spring training to add value to a team searching for reliable starting pitching. His repertoire includes a mid 90’s fastball and an above average curveball. In 2016, the left hander was a very reliable bullpen option for KC as he finished 2-2 overall with a 1.23 ERA. Matt Strahm makes for a nice late inning option to use against left handers and might have a chance to start some games this season. Look for Matt Strahm to make a solid first impression with his new ball club during spring training.
Jordan Lyles was recently signed to a one-year contract by the Padres, including a club option for the 2019 season. The team decided to designate Travis Wood for assignment to clear room on the 40 man roster for Lyles. Jordan Lyles pitched for the Padres in 2017 and will be heading back to San Diego for the 2018 season. His numbers with the Padres in 2017 were very unappealing as he went 1-5 with a 9.39 ERA across 23 innings. A.J. Preller made this move, as he saw Jordan Lyles as a potential candidate to improve his numbers while pitching in the pitcher friendly Petco Park.
Jordan Lyles throws a four seam fastball and a sinker as his primary pitches both topping out at around 93 mph. He is primarily a ground ball pitcher, as he relies on his accuracy and control to get outs. Lyles was drafted in 2008 by the Houston Astros and was an interesting prospect possessing a variety of pitches with major league potential. His numbers with the Astros were very unattractive in three seasons before he was traded to the Colorado Rockies where he performed with below average numbers in all of his four seasons with the Rockies. Statistically, there is nothing attractive about Jordan Lyles and this move looks meaningless for the San Diego Padres in 2018. A.J. Preller is rewarding Jordan Lyles with another chance to emend his career in San Diego and get back in the mix for a spot in the rotation or the bullpen.
The 2018 season will be Richard’s eighth as a San Diego Padre, since he began his major league career in 2008 with the Chicago White Sox. Richard recently agreed to a two-year (2018-19) $6 million-dollar contract. Clayton Richard has been a largely appreciated part of this franchise by the ownership, the coaching staff and the players that have been around him over the years. He recently won the 2017 MLBPAA Heart and Hustle Award awarded to the Padres player who embodies the most passion for the game and best embodies the value, traditions and spirits of the game. Clayton was chosen by his teammates and coaches for this award based on his hard work and passion on the field and in the community.
On the mound, he relies on a sinker that tops out at around 91 mph helping to collect most of his strikeouts and a changeup as his primary pitches. Occasionally he will throw a curve using a knuckle curve grip and then a cutter very rarely. Last season was a very bumpy ride for Richard where he looked great at times and also was very hittable during stretches. He gave up 240 hits on the season which led all of major league baseball and those 240 hits let him to induce a total of 105 earned runs. He finished the 2017 season going 8-15 record, with a 4.79 ERA, a 1.52 WHIP and 151 strikeouts across 197 and 1/3 innings. A.J. Preller has mentioned that Richard will be in the rotation to start the season, but much of his future for 2018 and 2019 remains unclear whether it will be as a starter or a long reliever. If he can continue to eat innings similarly to what he did in 2017 expect to see Clayton Richard in the rotation throughout the 2018 season. Clayton Richard will be turning 35 years old next season and hopefully, stays around through the end of the 2019 season and retires as a San Diego Padre.
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