Jhony Brito making strong case to be in Padres rotation

Feb 23, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; San Diego Padres pitcher Jhony Brito against the Los Angeles Dodgers during a spring training game at Camelback Ranch-Glendale. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Jhony Brito is making a strong first impression after arriving in San Diego from the Yankees. He is making a case to be the second arm from the Juan Soto deal to make the starting rotation.

The Padres desperately need a few good breaks to go their way in the starting rotation. Aside from Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove at the top, there are basically zero sure things. Even Michael King comes with question marks, having never made more than nine starts in the big leagues leading up to this season.

The battle for the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation features a cluster of unproven young arms or fringe roster players from a year ago.

Pedro Avila, Matt Waldron, Randy Vasquez, and Jhony Brito all are battling for those final two spots.

Brito’s performance in his spring outings suggests he is a favorite for one of those spots.

In three appearances this spring, Brito owns a 3.24 ERA with ten strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings. His numbers are even better when you look at just his last two outings. Against the White Sox and Cubs collectively, he pitched 6 1/3 innings while allowing just one run. He also is yet to walk a single hitter, with nine strikeouts in his last two outings combined.

The 26-year-old Dominican is still something of an unknown commodity. After all, he has logged just 90 innings of work in his MLB career, with a 4.28 ERA and 101 ERA+. His mid-to-high 90s sinker can be an effective primary pitch. Batters slugged a meager .392 against his changeup. His four-seam fastball proved tough to hit, coupled with his sinker, as batters hit just .163 against it.

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He adds a curveball to give himself a four-pitch repertoire. His toolbelt is certainly one that suggests he can be a solid starting pitcher.

He displayed his full repertoire effectively in his most recent outing against the Cubs, which was dominant.

Brito becoming a viable fourth or fifth starter would be a huge development for the Padres. San Diego is opting for youth and thriftiness free-agent, giving a free-agent pitcher a big payday. Brito is set to make $720,000. For his repertoire and potential, that is certainly a preferred price point for Padres ownership. If the Padres eventually sign a veteran, MLB-ready starter between now and Opening Day, Brito seems to be in position to make the rotation.

He and Matt Waldron (one earned run allowed in nine innings) have been the biggest standouts of the possible rotation options.

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