The Padres are putting together a solid season that should end with a playoff series, the first one for the franchise since 2006.
San Diego boasts a 27-17 record, marking the first time the Padres have been ten games above .500 since 2010. This is much in part to the solid starting pitching the Friars have gotten, especially from the front end of the rotation. They rank fifth in starter ERA and third in starter WAR in the league.
Let’s rank the five starting pitchers by their performance thus far in 2020.
This comes as a bit of a surprise. The 2020 Opening Day starter has largely been the weakest link among the main starting pitchers for the Padres this season. With the acquisitions at the deadline, Paddack, all of a sudden, is the worst of the starting pitchers, for now. However, that’s not to say the Texan has not put together some good outings this year. On August 30, Paddack struck out eight in six innings without allowing an earned run, looking like classic Paddack. The bugaboo for The Sheriff this season has been inconsistency.
In six starts between July 29 to August 25, he posted a 6.16 ERA and served up ten home runs. He has also put together two starts of six innings with zero earned runs. His 91 ERA+, 0.2 WAR are both the worst among the starting pitchers for the Friars, counting newly acquired Mike Clevinger’s stats with both clubs. Paddack very well can turn it around, with his velocity and spin rates all maintained from last year. It’s just a matter of locating key pitches and staying focused.
Much like Paddack, the name of the game for Richards has been inconsistent. There have been times where Richards has looked like his old, 2014-2015 Angels self. In five starts, Richards has allowed two runs or less. However, he also couldn’t get out of the first inning before allowing six runs to the Mariners a few weeks ago. Trends like this lead to middling overall numbers such as a 97 ERA+, 4.50 ERA, and a 0.7 WAR.
Unlike Paddack, Richards has several years worth of data to suggest he will figure it out; all he needs to do is remain healthy. He owns a 2.53 ERA in his last two starts since that debacle against the Mariners, and he is fourth on the rotation in ERA+ and strikeouts-per-nine innings. The Padres have been bringing him on slowly, given his injury history. If the Friars get the version of Richards, who has twice reached seven innings, he will become a weapon in a playoff series.
This might seem low for the Padres’ newest toy shipped in from Cleveland. Clevinger has endeared himself to Padres fans with his on-field personality and off-field presence. However, this is strictly dealing with his 2020 performance, which has been subpar to his lofty standards. Between 2017 and 2019, Clevinger owned a 2.96 ERA and 153 ERA+ in 74 starts. This season, pitch control has occasionally eluded him as he has a 3.74 ERA and 123 ERA+ through six starts, counting the four he made with the Indians before his arrival. By most standards, those are still solid numbers.
He ranks third in the current rotation in ERA+ and strikeouts-per-nine-innings. Since 2017, the Florida native has racked up 11.2 fWAR. In that same time frame, Dinelson Lamet leads Padres starting pitchers with 4.3. He has not pitched quite like an ace yet in a Padres uniform, but it almost feels inevitable that he will soon. He has a strong track record of success, and it’s just a matter of time before he finds his groove in San Diego.
Most did not view Davies as a top-of-rotation pitcher when he arrived via trade along with Trent Grisham. He came to San Diego as a solid depth piece who did not have a starting rotation spot locked up heading into the regular season. Now, all of that seems silly. By some measurements, Davies has been San Diego’s best starting pitcher all season. He leads the rotation with a 195 ERA+ and a minuscule 2.23 ERA in eight starts. By some metrics, Davies looks very hittable, with a fastball topping off at just 91 mph, yet he has been masterful in his approach.
He is second only to Lamet in WAR among the starters at 1.5 as well as FIP at 3.31. He has done a great job inducing weak contact and getting hitters to beat themselves. The former 26th round pick by the Orioles has been nothing short of a revelation thus far and is yet to allow more than three earned runs in any start this year. His 195 ERA+ this year is eighth-best in all of baseball. While this level of success may not be sustainable, the Padres have to be over the moon about how Davies has panned out after acquiring him from Milwaukee.
Many pundits tabbed Lamet as a breakout candidate in 2020, and so far, he is making them look like Nostradamus. With a 2.24 ERA, 194 ERA+, he fits on top of just about any rotation in baseball. He leads the Padres’ group in WAR at 1.7. His stuff is just plain filthy, which is projected by his ridiculous strikeout totals, currently averaging 11.7 strikeouts-per-nine-innings, which leads the team by a large margin, as does his 2.89 FIP.
The Dominican hurler is third in the National League in strikeouts at 68, just a hair behind Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom. His 1.6 fWAR is eight-best among all pitchers in the league. By all accounts, Lamet is the ace of the Padres’ staff. He has fanned 11 batters in two starts this year, and in five of his nine starts, he has struck out at least eight. San Diego is 7-2 this year when Lamet takes the hill, indicating that every time he takes the mound, the Padres expect to win. That’s precisely what you want from an ace.