Chris Paddack continues to impress in Padres’ spring training. Following his start on Friday, he spoke about the development of his curveball.
Fernando Tatis Jr. stole the show in his return to the lineup with a leadoff home run in the Padres 5-4 loss to the Athletics on Friday. However, Chris Paddack continued his stellar spring, pitching three innings while yielding three hits, one earned run, and fanning one.
In all, the 25-year-old faced 12 batters and limited the damage in the inning. Paddack surrendered a leadoff double to Chad Pinder. Carlos Perez singled to drive in Pinder and advanced to second on a throwing error. However, Paddack danced out of trouble, stranding Pinder at second base.
The first couple of outings this spring were geared toward Paddack finding his fastball. He attributed much of his regression in the shortened 2020 campaign to more side-to-side action in his primary pitch than vertical motion, which worked so well for him in 2019.
Paddack has primarily been a two-pitch pitcher while developing his curveball, throwing it at a 7.4 percent clip last season.
“I don’t know exactly how many I threw,” Paddack noted following Friday’s start. “I’ve been pleased so far with, you know, maybe not executing the curve 0-0 early in the game, but being able to go back to it in the third, is going to be huge for me.
“Showing the opposing team that pitch isn’t eliminated right away versus the past couple of years I feel like if I don’t execute the first couple of curveballs, I kind of put it behind me, and I put it in my pocket. It’s definitely going to be a weapon that I’m going to have to bring out to show those teams, basically, that they’re going to have to respect that pitch.”
In many starts last season, Paddack didn’t show his curveball until the fourth or fifth inning, which often led to extending his starts for another inning or two. Advanced statistics would suggest Paddack’s curveball has the potential to be a plus-pitch, with 4.9 more inches – or eight percent more – of vertical movement than the league average.
For Paddack, though, it’s primarily been a lack of confidence in this pitch.
“It’s coming along. I’ve been talking about it over the past couple of years. I always say it’s a confidence pitch. It’s getting better. The more I throw it in the spring. It’ll be ready for the season.”
Paddack has a 1.29 ERA in three spring starts. It’s early, but he’s looked largely improved from the end of last season. Mixing in an effective curveball 10-15 percent will go a long way toward Paddack regaining 2019 form.