The season is at it’s halfway point and it’s time to hand out mid-season grades to the Padres’ starting pitchers.
The Padres starting pitching has been a roller coaster ride for the first half of 2019. Their starting pitching team ERA is 14th in the league at 4.34. Let’s give out mid-season grades to the Padres starting pitchers who have started at least five games.
Lucchesi came into this season as the most experienced of the starting rotation, by that meaning he pitched most of last season. He has been the de facto leader of this rotation. He has a 3.95 ERA, which is second only to Chris Paddack in the rotation and he leads the team in innings pitched with 84 1/3. His 1.4 WAR (Fan Graphs) leads the rotation as well. He has a 105 ERA+ which is slightly above average. He has pitched into the seventh inning five times this season, the most on the team. While he lacks in eye-popping numbers or a dominant strikeout rate, Lucchesi has gotten the job done and has been a steady presence in the rotation, allowing three or fewer runs in 10 of his 15 starts.
The Padres’ Opening Day starter has found his groove of late. He has allowed just one run in five of his last seven starts. So far this year, his 4.32 ERA, 4.03 FIP, and 1.2 WAR are all third among Padres starters. At home, he has been dominant with a 2.70 ERA in eight starts. However, he owns a 6.49 ERA on the road. His ERA+ and FIP are much improved from last season, even with his ERA mirroring that of last season. On the mound, Lauer seems more comfortable. He may never be a dominant top-of-the-rotation starter, but for the most part this season, he has been what the Padres have asked him to be.
Strahm came into this season as an unknown, mostly coming out of the bullpen in limited action last season. Strahm started strong in April with a 3.04 ERA and a 3.86 FIP, one of the best months among Padres starters. Through most of May, it was much of the same. Whether it is due to fatigue or league adjustments, it has been tough sledding since. In his five starts since Memorial Day, he has an 8.76 ERA with a 7.12 FIP, allowing four or more runs in four of the five starts and is recently coming off of a stretch of 13 earned runs in two starts. Strahm has struggled with consistency but his most recent start, a win on Wednesday against Baltimore, he struck out nine without a walk and allowed four runs. He still sits at a 4.94 ERA. The Padres need him to right the ship if they have visions of an above-.500 season.
Paddack started as good as anyone could dream of starting their big league career. A 1.91 ERA in April was one of the best in baseball, and he was the favorite to win National League Rookie of the Year. Then the reality of the long MLB season kicked in, and Paddack has fallen on hard times. He owns a 6.28 ERA in three starts in June, very out of character for how the first two months of the season went. He was recently sent down, mostly to rest as his inning totals continue to climb, now at 70 2/3. Despite his dismal June, Paddack still posts a solid 3.18 ERA and 130 ERA+, both still lead the Padres rotation. Bumps and bruises are bound to happen for a 23-year-old who hadn’t pitched above Double-A before this season. He has the mental fortitude to bounce back and continue his solid rookie campaign as he still has only allowed more than four earned runs once this year. When he is on, he is one of the most exciting pitchers in all of baseball.
Like Paddack, Margevicius made a large jump to the big leagues, his more dramatic, coming from High-A Lake Elsinore to the majors. He started out strong, allowing just one run in each of his first three starts. He currently has a 6.41 ERA which is a bit bloated, coming off of the worst start of his brief major league career, allowing nine runs in just 1 1/3 innings against the Rockies last weekend. He had a 3.23 ERA in April, which climbed to 8.59 in May and it now has ballooned to 14.63 in three June starts. He was briefly sent down in May to try and right the ship. He may be pitching over his head, having never faced hitting above High-A ball. He has shown flashes of what he can become but for now, he may be due for more seasoning down on the farm.
The 2016 first round pick finally pitched his way into the big leagues this year. The results have been mostly positive, with a few clunkers mixed in. His best start came in his native country of Canada on May 25, when he tossed six innings and struck out nine on his way to his first major league win. His 5.08 ERA and 4.49 FIP leave much to be desired but he is only 33 innings into his major league career. As is true with most of the Padres rotation, patience is key. Quantrill has the pedigree to carve out a solid major league career. His last two appearances have come out of the bullpen, with Andy Green toying with rotation options with two off days so close together. Quantrill will likely find himself once again in the rotation before too much longer. He has allowed more than three runs just twice in eight games.