There are three versions of San Diego Padres’ pitcher Chris Paddack.
The Paddack we saw in 2019 was a lights-out starter. He played his way into the rotation and made a case to make his debut as the opening day starter the next season. The 2020 version of the pitcher was close to the opposite. He couldn’t locate pitches, and had it not been for injuries wouldn’t have been a starter in the playoffs.
That leaves us with the third and final Paddack. The 2021 version. This one might just be the most interesting of them all. This version of Paddack is somewhere in between the two. He is showing similar pitch usage to 2019. Except he has had time to develop his third pitch, the curveball. It now has a 50% whiff rate compared to 20.8% last season. The main problem is now with his fastball and changeup. He isn’t able to locate them effectively, and batters are taking advantage of his mistakes.
It’s that issue of location that has made him streaky this season and really bad on Wednesday against the Nationals.
He got hit hard. The sequence of the first three batters set the tone for the whole outing. Paddack hit the first batter after being ahead in the count at 1-2. Trea Turner found a pitch in the zone and hit a single to put runners on the corners. Then one of the best batters in the game, Juan Soto, hit a three-run bomb to left field on a pitch nearly identical to Turner’s.
Things got worse in the second inning. Paddack was able to retire the first two batters on strikes. Then he proceeded to allow the next five batters to reach base. Four hits and one walk plated four runs for Washington. Some of the hits came on pitches that dotted the zone. When you looked at Victor Caratini’s glove placement, Paddack was constantly far from the target that Caratini set. This means any sequencing or tunneling strategies would be rather ineffective.
After giving up seven runs in two innings, it appeared like Paddack’s night was done. Jayce Tingler had some arms active in the pen. To some surprise, the right-hander ended up on the mound in the third inning. This was in sorts a way of Paddack owning his loss and trying to eat any innings so the bullpen wouldn’t have to. While the concept made sense, it all depended on Paddack’s ability to hold his own. The pitcher couldn’t, and he allowed the first three runners to reach once again. Now Tingler had Nabil Crismatt come in as relief.
Crismatt got out of the third while only allowing one run to score. His pitching performance actually deserves some praise. He went five innings while only allowing one run. The bullpen was taxed after five arms threw in Tuesday’s game.
“It was huge what he was able to do. To be able to save the bullpen and keep those guys down. He just kept going out there. He was out of gas but kept making pitches and kept competing. For him to save the bullpen and save the arms down there is huge,” Tingler said about Crismatt stepping up after the rough starting performance.
The Padres offense entered the bottom of the ninth down 15-2. To their credit, they showed that they still had some life. Trent Grisham homered, Jorge Mateo hit a double, then Wil Myers and Caratini singled to score three runs. It was just way too little too late. This game was not their fault, as they were faced with the daunting task of constantly chasing a deficit.
The Padres have their All-Star pitcher, Yu Darvish, on the mound tomorrow. They will hope to bounce back from this disappointing night.