The San Diego Padres are 3-1 on the Cactus League season after an 8-0 blanking of the Cleveland Indians.
It may have only been a spring training outing, but Chris Paddack was locked in. In his first start of 2020, the Padres’ staff ace dominated, throwing two shutout innings against the Indians with three strikeouts.
“I was really pleased with the outing,” Paddack said. “I kinda forgot what it felt like. Warming up today, my stomach was at my ankles, butterflies, nerves, but it was all around great.”
San Diego Padres’ manager Jayce Tingler discussed Paddack’s performance after the game.
“(He was) aggressive, I saw strike one the majority of the time,” Tingler said. “Working quick, fun to play defense behind.
To Tingler, Paddack’s success on the day may have been a product of his command.
“I saw him land his changeup and get a swing and miss with that,” Tingler added. “He used four quadrants of the zone with his fastball very well today.”
As Tingler alluded to, Paddack’s strong start was characterized by efficiency on the mound, as 19 of the 25 pitches he threw on the day were for strikes. While only two of his 19 tosses were curveballs, he stated that he felt more comfortable throwing the pitch than he had last season.
“Last year, the difference was that the (curveballs) I left up, it was a lack of confidence,” Paddack said. “This year, the ones I leave up are because I’m excited to throw it.”
He mentioned that an increased use of that curveball figures to play a big part in his potential for success this season.
“Being able to make sure that I’m comfortable throwing that curveball in any count…in different situations, it’s going to be a huge, huge factor when it comes to going deep in games,” Paddack said. “When you’re facing guys the third, fourth time through the lineup, they’re able to make adjustments. So being able to keep them honest at the plate…”
The lone blemish on Paddack’s Wednesday afternoon start came from a familiar face. Former Padres’ outfielder Franmil Reyes roped the first pitch he saw from Paddack for a double to left field.
“He ambushed me, I kinda missed my location a little bit,” Paddack said of his matchup against his old teammate. “But I wish the best to him. I miss that guy.”
Despite the strides he has made in the last year, his lack of innings limitations this season, and his strong start today, the hard-throwing righty stated that he hadn’t changed much about his early springtime approach to pitching.
“I would say the difference between this year and last year, for me, it’s not much,” Paddack said. “I’m still coming into spring earning my job, but I think that the workload is about using this time to prepare for the season, to work on some things that I need to sharpen in my arsenal.”
Paddack’s stellar start was complemented by solo home runs from outfielders Will Myers and Edward Olivares. Myers’ was an opposite-field effort off of one-time Padres Phil Maton that landed deep in the lawn beyond the right field fence, while Olivares’ was pulled over the visitor’s bullpen in left field.
Tingler offered praise for both players.
“We’ve seen (Myers) not go deep, but drive the ball, hit the ball the other way, so it was a good way for him to finish up his day,” Tingler said. “(Olivares) has been super impressive. He’s done it all: he’s driven the ball in the right-center gap, he went deep today, has had a diving play, base running. So he’s been very impressive early on.”
After Paddack left the game, six San Diego pitchers threw scoreless innings in relief, including right-hander Luis Perdomo, who matched his teammate’s performance with three strikeouts and just one hit allowed.
“(He was) pounding the zone, really good sink, mixing in his secondary well,” Tingler said. “Probably most importantly, he’s working quick, and it’s fun to play defense behind that. If we happened to have an issue on the starting pitching somehow, I think he’s able to fill in there…long relief, flexibility to the team.”
San Diego went on to win the game by a score of 8-0 after RBIs from infielders Ivan Castillo, Seth Mejias-Brean, Hudson Potts, and Jake Cronenworth stretched their lead in the contest’s later innings, marking the team’s second consecutive win.