There are several indications that the San Diego Padres are possibly searching for an ace to lead the staff once the season starts. But does the team already have two pitchers who are capable of filling the need?
With a potent hitting lineup of stars, the San Diego Padres are close to major league relevancy. Most pundits agree that the key to the 2020 season is starting pitching. If they can get anything positive out of the group, the Padres could surprise a few teams in 2020.
With several young players entrenched in the rotation and a few more on the rise, the Padres are very close to being a competitive team.
Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, and even Chris Archer are names that were linked to the Padres to some degree. There seems to be the thought that the Padres need an ace, but the reality of the situation is that they might already have two of them on their roster.
It is early, but Chris Paddack and Dinelson Lamet show a rare ability on the mound.
Both pitchers rack up the strikeouts, and each provides an edge to the team when they pitch.
To begin 2019, Chris Paddack was simply one of the best pitchers in the game. The right-hander was 2-1 in April with a 1.91 ERA and a 0.697 WHIP in six starts, and 33 innings pitched. This was a fantastic start to the career of Paddack. The league caught up to Paddack as he mainly relied on two pitches in 2019. The changeup is a plus pitch for the big Texan, and he locates his mid-90s fastball really well, but the key to Paddack seems to be the curveball.
This spring, Paddack is using the curve more and trying to locate the pitch accurately. The right-hander is very excited about the progression of the pitch and reported that he has several things that he is working on with the development of the curve. “Being able to slow my body down,” Paddack said, was one key to the future of the pitch. Paddack explains that he gets too animated when throwing the pitch, and his mechanics become out of order.
Paddack is a student of the game. There is much to like about his approach and how diligent he is about his preparation. There is a high ceiling with this native Texan who brings a menacing presence to the team on game day.
In August, September, and October, Lamet recorded a 3.60 ERA and a 1.202 WHIP in nine starts, and 50 innings pitched. The right-handed pitcher struck out 75 in that time, showcasing one of the most dominant sliders in the game. Lamet has a high ceiling and has yet to reach his ultimate potential. Most believe that Lamet is on the cusp of a breakout season, and 2020 could be the year that breakout happens.
Lamet’s slider is tough to hit. Recently, Tommy Pham spoke about the pitcher and the fact his slider is tough to hit. “I knew it was coming and still had no chance. He is nasty,” Pham said when speaking about facing Lamet in a spring matchup early in the month. That is some high praise from a veteran player who prides himself on making contact.
In time Lamet could be a top-of-the-order force for the Padres. The velocity on the fastball is there, and his wipeout slider is impossible to hit when Lamet changes speeds on the pitch. The right-hander uses several different planes with the pitch and is capable of adding or subtracting velocity on the ball.
With every pitch this spring, Gore established himself as one of the best pitchers on the staff. The 21-year-old pitcher arguably can throw in the major leagues right now. The work ethic and understanding of the game is off the charts as well. With four pitches that grade as above-average, Gore could easily be the best pitching prospect the Padres have produced since Jake Peavy.
Directly behind Gore in terms of growth is Luis Patino. The Padres drafted the Colombian youngster as a shortstop, but he showed more promise on the mound. Some even consider his arsenal and stuff better than what Gore possesses. Patino tops out in the upper 90s with his fastball and throws a plus slider and change. There is more progression beyond those two pitches, and Patino is extremely athletic on the mound. In time, this duo could lead the San Diego Padres’ rotation for years to come.
The Padres have depth. There are several men capable of taking their game to the next level. Because of this depth, the Padres wisely have taken it slow in terms of acquiring a pitcher to headline the staff. There could still be a need for a veteran pitcher as playoffs become something to consider in San Diego, but Preller and his staff will cross that bridge when it comes. For now, enjoy Chris Paddack and Dinelson Lamet and enjoy the fact they provide a mysterious future for the team. In time, each could be recognized within the major league community as a headline starting pitcher.