In the game of baseball each segment of your team must pull their weight in order for the whole team to be successful. The San Diego Padres starting staff has been decimated by injuries thus resulting in a bullpen that is completely out of gas. The Padres’ bullpen has been horribly inconsistent and there really doesn’t seem to be hope on the horizon.
Tyson Ross, Robbie Erlin, Andrew Cashner and Cesar Vargas have all spent time or are presently on the disabled list. It all started on opening day when the teams ace Tyson Ross exited early from his start with shoulder fatigue. He has only recently picked up a ball, and though he looks to be alright, his injury was a huge determining factor on the Padres failed 2016 season.
Robbie Erlin got the call after Ross’ injury and looked poised to be a break-out candidate, only to succumb to injury as well. Erlin’s injury proved to be much worse than Ross as he suffered a torn elbow ligament and under went Tommy John surgery. He will be lost untill late 2017 at the earliest. Cesar Vargas came out of nowhere to have some really effective starts for the Padres, but he too injured his elbow. He should only miss 4-6 weeks, but after suffering an injury you have to figure the rest of his 2016 season is cloudy at best. Especially when you factor Vargas was a reliever prior to the Padres placing him in the starting rotation this season. More injuries equals more strain on the bullpen. See the theme here?
Andrew Cashner only missed the minimum amount of days with a leg injury, but still his absence from the rotation also strained an already taxed group. Add the fact James Shields was just traded and Doug Bochtler certainly has his work cut out for him. Luckily Christian Friedrich has been reliable and serviceable as a starting pitcher. He has eaten up innings, but the bullpen still needs more rest. Where is the rest going to come from?
The Padres bullpen currently leads all of Major League Baseball in innings pitched with 210 innings so far this year. The starting staff has consistently put pressure on the bullpen and that is not a good thing by any means. Brandon Maurer has gone from the Padres prime dominant setup man to a mere shell of himself. He leads the Padres in appearances and innings pitched out of the bullpen, and is long overdue for some extended rest. Maurer is absolutely gassed and the Padres really need to be careful with the young pitchers arm and psyche.
Andy Green has done a decent job with what he has, but the starting pitchers need to step up in the worse way. Colin Rea can eat up innings, but the young pitcher is on an innings limit this year. The team already skipped his spot in the rotation once and sent him to El Paso for bullpen help. Rea will throw somewhere around 180 innings this year in a best case scenario. He is far too young to push, especially in a lost season.
The rest of the season is going to be the year of Drew Pomeranz. He must step up and pitch like an ace. The Padres need a minimum of seven innings out of the lefty the rest of the way.
The problem is he has only thrown over 100 total innings in a year once in his pro career. That was in 2012 as a rookie at the age of 22. That has to be a great concern for the Padres. Pomeranz has the ability to approach 200 innings, but do you really want to push the young man? Also there are rumors of the team dealing him if their price is met.
The San Diego Padres starting staff lead all of major league baseball with 142 walks. That is not a promising stat. Their wild streaks result in inflated pitch counts and fewer innings pitched during the game. The Padres have no complete game this season. Not a surprising stat as 11 other teams have also failed to record a complete game. The art of pitching is dying and fewer and fewer pitchers are pitching to contact. Its far more sexy to strike someone out then to induce them to ground out to short stop.
The remainder of the 2016 season will be adventurous in the very least for the Padres starting rotation. Tyson Ross is looking like a late July return (hopefully). Andrew Cashner is a high trade candidate being that he is in the last year of his contract with the Padres. The team could also choose to keep Cashner in hopes of attaining a compensation pick which the right hander will surely earn. That’s an interesting story to keep an eye on.
Colin Rea and Drew Pomeranz have innings limitation issues. Friedrich has really been impressive but he is hardly a guarantee. Vargas has arm issues and will be brought back gently. An interesting option is Erik Johnson whom the Padres obtained from the White Sox in the Shields trade. The right hander is poised to take his game to the next level. He could be a very important part of the rest of the 2016 season. The Padres could count on this big right hander. He will make his Padres debut this Saturday in Colorado.
The Padres need innings eaters at the front end of the staff. If Cashner and/or Pomeranz are dealt the team will really be in trouble. If a few trades are made within the staff expect the Padres to obtain major league ready young arms in return who they can plug into the rotation as an audition for the 2017 season and beyond. This 2016 season might be lost, but it is still extremely crucial for the Padres to set themselves up for success in the future. The starting staff and its future is very much up in the air, but I suspect we shall see some development in the next few months. The bullpen on the other hand will continue to be overwhelmed by this Padres staff. Fernando Rodney, Carlos Villanueva, Brad Hand and company will certainly have their work cut out for them.