The San Diego Padres have begun the season playing .500 ball through 30 games, experiencing highs and lows alike. While off season additions Derek Norris, Justin Upton and James Shields have produced well, the Padres have been mediocre in many other regards.
Baseball is fickle, and extended hot streaks, and droughts, are to be expected. All in all, the Friars have several things to be encouraged by, along with a few concerns – see base running woes.
There is reason for even more optimism, however, and a trade may not even be necessary. The team has three players who have yet to play this year, and could contribute at some point this season.
Brandon Morrow’s injury was obviously less than opportune, and placed greater pressure on an already mediocre pitching staff, statistically at least – a collective ERA of 3.99, good for 9th in the NL. While Morrow was placed on the disabled list, and has a concerning injury history, the return of other currently injured players could provide a spark, and much needed depth.
Oh, Josh Johnson. When he signed with the Padres in 2014, he was viewed as a risk. When healthy, Johnson can be a top of the rotation starter. But when he’s injured – see 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2013 – his presence is severely missed, and he is unlikely to contribute in a meaningful way. Well, the latter was the case in 2014, and Johnson missed the entire year.
Flash forward to 2015, when he once again signed with the Padres. While a player with such a shaky health record can hardly be counted upon to contribute, the organization yearned for the 6’7 right-hander to return and demonstrate why teams have remained patient with Johnson despite his injury history.
It seems like the second time may be the charm, as Johnson appears fairly close to returning – at least by his standards, as he even completed a simulated game recently.
Though his return cannot be assured, and even if he returns his production could be shaky, having him as a 5th starter, or at least an insurance policy, would be huge and promising for a team that’s had inconsistent pitching performances.
Estimated return: June or July