Here is a guess at the San Diego Padres 25-man roster.
Attempting to predict which players will end up making final rosters, in any sport, is extremely difficult. Nobody truly knows what is going through the mind of the head coach, and those who make the final roster decisions, making the majority of all roster predictions not very accurate.
That’s not going to stop me from at least trying it.
This will be a two-part series where a prediction of the Padres roster will be made now, at the beginning of spring training, and in around three weeks when spring training is winding down.
Whether it’s Gio Gonzalez or not, the Padres are more than likely going to add another starting pitcher before opening day. With a predominant left-handed rotation at the moment, Gonzalez might not seem like an ideal fit for the team, but it’s just personally who I think they will add. Marcus Stroman talks have been in the air and obviously, he would be a much better fit for this rotation than Gonzalez, but I am not going to predict a trade to happen with the season only a month away.
Joey Lucchesi and Eric Lauer are the only pitchers currently in camp that are virtual locks for this rotation. Both impressed in their rookie seasons and the organization will likely give them all the opportunity in the world to continue to develop as pitchers. If for some reason the Padres do not add a starting pitcher to this mix then I would fully expect Joey Lucchesi to be the opening day starter.
After those two, and potentially three, the race for the final two rotation spots will be an intense one. Matt Strahm was incredibly impressive out of the bullpen last year for the Friars, posting a 2.05 ERA with a WHIP below one and being an extremely reliable piece for Padres’ manager Andy Green. The Padres have expressed potential interest in giving Strahm the opportunity as a starter and I fully believe he will get every opportunity to crack the starting rotation. His stuff plays and if he can just bulk up a little bit, as he has been this off-season, the former Kansas City Royal could be a big piece for the Padres this season.
Jacob Nix is my final pick to make this starting rotation. The Padres need a right-handed pitcher in this rotation and Nix is the best of that bunch. Bryan Mitchell was awful for the majority of the 2018 season and Brett Kennedy‘s stuff does not play at the big league level in my opinion. Nix, who also struggled in nine games with the team last season, needs to generate more swings-and-misses if he wants to have any success at the next level. The 22-year-old only struck out 21 batters in 42 1/3 innings pitched last season and does not have a true “out” pitch at the moment. His curveball has the potential to be that but it still needs to be developed and that should be his main focus in spring training.
Chris Paddack is one of the more intriguing players in camp for the Padres this spring. The organization has said that they will give him the opportunity to break camp with the team, but that is just hard for me to envision right now. Paddack, who had Tommy John Surgery in 2017, only pitched 90 innings last year because of an innings restriction imposed by the Padres organization. For that reason alone, the Padres will probably be inclined to take it slower with Paddack and give him some time at the Triple-A level rather than rushing him to the big league level. His talent is undeniable, however, and he very well could break camp with the team.
Just like Paddack, Logan Allen is also one of the more intriguing players in Peoria with the Padres. Acquired by the Padres in the Craig Kimbrel trade, Allen was viewed as a “toss in” piece at the time. Since then he has done nothing but impress and was arguably the best pitcher in the farm system last year. He posted a 2.54 ERA last year across both the Double-A and Triple-A levels and posted a 1.63 ERA with the Chiuahahas in a league that is known for its offense. Allen is the most big league ready pitcher of the bunch right now, but even then it would be a longshot for him to make the roster. He will likely start the season down at the Triple-A level but will definitely be up with the Padres at some point in 2019.
Cal Quantrill, another highly touted pitching prospect within the organization, is in a similar situation with Paddack and Allen. The former first-round pick will not break camp with the Padres but will likely make his major league debut this season. Quantrill possesses one of the best changeups in all of minor league baseball but still needs to develop the rest of his arsenal to truly become a contributing pitcher at the big league level.
Bryan Mitchell is out of options and has no other option than to make this rotation or he will no longer have a job. While improvements have been made Mitchell just doesn’t seem like a starting pitcher at the big league level. He will likely be released from the Padres and will have to find a job elsewhere. Brett Kennedy and Luis Perdomo still do have options and both of them will be pieces for the El Paso Chihuahuas this season.
If it wasn’t for the abundance of left-handed pitchers, Robbie Erlin would definitely have a spot in this rotation. “Big Game Bob” impressed a lot last season as both a starter and a reliever, but he is better suited coming out of the bullpen. With the signing of Aaron Loup to a major league deal, however, the Padres will have to make a difficult decision in regards to Robbie Erlin.
The Padres had one of the best bullpens in baseball last season and there is a good chance that they will be right back up there this year as most of those pieces are coming back for this season.
Aaron Loup signed with the Padres just a few weeks ago. The 31-year-old left-hander signed a major league deal with the Friars, meaning that it is highly unlikely that he does not break camp with the team. Loup has excellent career splits against left-handed batters and he will more than likely be utilized as a lefty specialist out of the Padres bullpen.
As long as they can all stay healthy through spring training, Wingenter, Stock, Stammen, Maton, and Yates should all make the team. Wingenter, Stock, and Maton will all look to build off their successful 2018 seasons while getting every opportunity to get outs in the 6th and 7th innings. Craig Stammen will more than likely be the setup man and Kirby Yates is already penciled into the closer role. Things might become interested if either Stammen or Yates is traded at the deadline, but for now, they will stay in their normal roles.
Jose Castillo would have easily made this list had the Padres not shut him down due to a forearm issue. During his bullpen, Castillo felt some tightness in his forearm and the team elected to go the safe route, shutting him down for the time being. Forearm tightness is typically the precursor for Tommy John surgery and the Padres are still hopeful that Castillo will not have to undergo that procedure. If this is just a mild injury, Castillo will bounce back and make the roster with no problem. However, if the injury is worse than that, expect Castillo to be out for an extended period of time. Robbie Erlin slides into the Padres bullpen if Castillo is out for a long time but will find himself on the outside looking in if Castillo returns soon.
Gerardo Reyes has the prototypical skill set of a San Diego Padre reliever: he throws absolute gas. Reyes, a Mexican native, regularly hits triple digits with his fastball and is difficult to hit because of his arm slot. He posted a 2.77 ERA and struck out 69 batters in both Lake Elsinore and San Antonio last season. Reyes will make the Padres’ roster despite the fact that he has not pitched a single inning above Double-A in his career. He is 25 years old and his fastball will play at any level, which is why I think the Padres will elect to give him a spot on the 25-man roster once spring training is over.
Miguel Diaz had as good of a chance to make the roster as anyone before he went down with a knee injury that will sideline him for six to eight weeks. He will likely start the season in El Paso, and might even get an opportunity as a starter, but we should see him in San Diego at some point this season.
Brad Wieck is another interesting case, as he had some success in his small stint with the Padres last season. Wieck, a 6’9″ left-hander, was diagnosed with testicular cancer during the off-season and is still recovering from the surgery that came with that. The Padres will likely give Wieck more time to get himself back to form at El Paso before calling him up to the major leagues. He will certainly see some action with the Padres this year.
The only two other relievers in camp right now that had a chance of breaking camp with the team are Kazuhisa Makita and Kyle McGrath. Both of them spent time with the Padres last year and did not have much success in their time with the club. It would be really hard to envision a scenario where even one of them spends an extended amount of time with the Padres, let alone break camp with the team.
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