The Padres finished in the upper half of 2017 MLB pitching rankings in some categories. The team finished 14th in SO/9 (8.3), tied for ninth in earned runs allowed (742), and finished just below the league average in total strikeouts (1,337) with 1,325.
The Padres’ starting rotation consisted of pitchers who were bullpen arms on other teams, minus Luis Perdomo and Dinelson Lamet. Clayton Richard was in the Cubs’ bullpen in 2016, as was Trevor Cahill. Jhoulys Chacin was a starter for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2016.
Chacin brought his ERA down by almost a whole point from 2016 (4..68) to 2017 (3.89). He finished the season with 13 wins, one below his career best.
Richard set a new career-high with two complete games, and led the team in innings pitched, with 197.1. Cahill pitched well enough to be traded to Kansas City along with Ryan Buchter and Brandon Maurer, while the Royals were still in contention for the postseason.
As for Buchter and Maurer, they looked like different pitchers when they went to Kansas City. Maurer’s ERA shot up from 5.72 to 8.10. He was described as “nothing short of terrible” by fantasy experts (espn.com) after going to Kansas City. Perhaps it was because Balsley wasn’t there to fix Maurer. Balsley has been called a “miracle worker” during his tenure with the Padres.
Perhaps the most impressive improvement was that of Lamet. He wowed Padres fans during his MLB debut on May 25, striking out eight over five innings in a 4-3 win over the New York Mets. From there, things got tough. He allowed 16 runs over his next three starts, and his ERA shot up to 8.50.
Lamet’s best pitch, his slider, became among the best in the majors before the season ended. He got MLB’s best team, the Dodgers, to whiff 10 times on Sep. 1. Lamet looked more improved as the season progressed, and didn’t let the getting knocked around after his debut stunt his development.
The Padres will have more talented pitchers get called up in the near future, and Balsley will oversee their development. It’s tough to say the team isn’t confident about him being in that position.
McGwire has completed his second year as Green’s right-hand man. For the past two years, he has carried a cool-as-a-cucumber demeanor. He has loads of MLB experience that he can share with a clubhouse full of young players. McGwire could be a manager for another team some day. For now, he’s a good presence to have in the Padres clubhouse.
San Diego has become a graveyard for hitting coach careers. The team is searching for yet another hitting coach before next season, who will be their ninth since 2004.
Zinter was hired before the start of the 2016 season, and was fired last month. The Padres ranked last in batting average (.234), 28th in slugging percentage (.393), and 29th in OPS (.692).
Is Zinter the one to blame? Petco Park was once known as one of the better pitcher’s parks in MLB. That has changed over the past few years, with the franchise electing to move in the fences. However, the hitting woes haven’t changed much inside Petco.
Zinter was fired because the Padres wanted a “different voice,” according to Green. As of now, the club hasn’t mentioned any names as targets to replace Zinter. Of course, being the hitting coach of the Padres might not seem like an attractive job, given how short a tenure others have had.
The Padres’ bullpen ranked 24th in MLB with a 4.49 ERA. However, bullpen ERA doesn’t tell the whole story. The bullpen blew only 17 saves, good enough for fourth best. They were 10th best with 581 strikeouts. However, the bullpen gave up more home runs than any other team, and had a 26-29 win-loss record. The bullpen was a mixed bag.
Like Balsley, Bochtler could be another reason why Maurer and Buchter pitched better in San Diego than in Kansas City. Pitchers in the Padres bullpen who expected to perform well, like Brad Hand and Craig Stammen, did just that. Rule-5 selections Jose Torres and Miguel Diaz performed well for having no MLB experience.
Hoffman finished up his 12th year as the Padres’ third-base coach. The Padres had a 43 percent XBT in 2017, tied for fifth best in MLB. A base runner reached third from first on a single 82 times, more than the league average.
However, base runners scored from second on a double only 29 times, well below the league average. Although, that could be a testament to the lack of hitting from the team this season.
Hoffman has used an “aggressive, but not too aggressive” approach as the Padres’ third-base coach. He has been at the position for 12 years, and for two years with Green as the manager. He must be doing something right.
Washington spent his first season as first-base coach, after being promoted from hitting coach at Double-A San Antonio.
The Padres ranked dead last in stolen base opportunities, but were 13th in MLB with 89 stolen bases. They had a 73 percent success rate in stolen bases, ranking 12 in MLB, and on-par with the league average. It’s also only one percent less than 2016.
The Padres finished above the league average for times caught stealing second base with 28, less than the 45 times in 2016.
It appears that Washington might not have the same aggressive approach as Hoffman for base runners. It’s hard to make a solid verdict on that, given this is his first season. He certainly appears to be more cautious than Tarrik Brock, who was at the position last season.
Mike is the sports editor for the Fayette Advertiser, and has been with East Village Times since 2015. His work has appeared on Bleacher Report. He is an avid Padres fan who is keeping the faith and trusting the process.