Padres approaching innings limit dilemma with Michael King

The New Yorker

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At some point, Michael King will need to limit his innings pitched if the San Diego Padres plan on using him late in the season and into the playoffs. 

The goal of major league baseball is to win in the playoffs.

The San Diego Padres intend to go deep into the 2024 playoffs. But that concept is in jeopardy as the Padres currently possess issues with their starting pitchers.

Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish are presently on the I.L. Darvish should return relatively soon, but there are whispers that Musgrove may not be able to toe the rubber until deep in the season, if at all. Dylan Cease and Michael King are carrying the staff, and if it weren’t for the emergence of Matt Waldron, the Padres would be in deep trouble.

Cease is a horse and capable of continuing to dominate for the rest of the season, but both King and Waldron (to some sense) will endure innings limitations in their 2024 season. Michael King has not thrown more than 104.2 innings at that major league level. He’s pitched 83 innings at this point, and we are almost halfway through the season.

The Padres previously stated that they’d like to limit King to 140 innings. The pitcher seems to think 160 is a more reasonable goal. Either way, King will eclipse 140-160 innings in early September at his current pace. If Michael King reaches those limits, will that put his availability for the playoffs in question? It certainly will.

When asked about innings limitations on air recently, King seemed slightly annoyed at the topic. “The competitor in me is not big into that (managing innings). I don’t like to get pulled from any games. I don’t like missing any starts,” King stated to Don Orsillo and Mark Grant during the Padres’ first game in New York.

You like to see that bulldog-type mentality, but there are legitimate concerns here moving forward.

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“I know Ruben (Niebla) has my best interest at heart. It’s a long season, and I am taking it day by day,” King said at the end of the interview. It is a tough reality for the pitcher. Physically, he may be able to go past the 160 innings mark, but what kind of toll will that do to his future abilities? And is it worth the risk?

The Padres are plagued with a dilemma regarding Michael King.

Do they shelf the pitcher for a week or two in hopes he can pitch at the end of the season and in the playoffs? or do you just roll the dice?

Last season, the Padres had the same issue with Seth Lugo. The right-handed pitcher had never thrown over 101 innings at the major league level. He was faced with an innings limitation and made it to 146.1 innings for San Diego in total. Lugo dealt with a minor calf issue during the season, which helped keep his innings down. The month of time that he missed from May to June assisted him in making it to late September with the Padres.

Without a break like that, King will be hard-pressed to be available late in the 2024 season.

What will the Padres do?

Only time will tell.

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