The Padres should bring back Eric Lauer

Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: AP Photo

The San Diego Padres need pitching, and former draft pick Eric Lauer could be an excellent addition to the roster.

“Nobody likes the Dodgers.”

That quote from Eric Lauer in the Padres locker room in 2018 instantly endeared him to fans from San Diego. His 7-2 record with a 2.63 ERA lifetime against LA made him a fan favorite. Lauer seemed to reach a new level of competitiveness when facing the Dodgers, and Padres fans loved it.

Eric Lauer was unfortunately dealt with Luis Urias to Milwaukee in November of 2019 for Trent Grisham and Zach Davies. With the Brewers, Lauer made some mechanical advancements and was very productive in stretches. His arm slot was altered so that Lauer could be more consistent with his landing and follow-through. The result was an increase in velocity.

In 2021, Lauer went 7-5 with a 3.19 ERA, a 1.138 WHIP in 24 starts, and 118.2 innings pitched. He struck out 117 in that time as the Brewers unlocked a velocity increase in the lefty that saw his fastball consistently in the mid-90s. The next year, Lauer pitched a career-high 158.2 innings, producing a 3.69 ERA and a 1.223 WHIP in 29 starts. Lauer struck out 157 batters in that time, proving that 2021 was no fluke.

Last season, Lauer struggled with command and injuries. A right shoulder issue (non-throwing shoulder) prevented him from reaching his mechanical abilities. His velocity dropped, and the pain in his shoulder was too much to bear. The pitcher never got on track and was unable to help Milwaukee down the stretch. He was granted free agency in November as the Brewers did not want to pay his future contract.

Lauer made $5,075,000 million last season. He is a free agent, and it is tough to say what his value is currently. The pitcher and his representatives would probably want a one or two-year deal with some incentives. This would be a chance for the southpaw to prove his value and possibly earn a future hefty payday.

At the age of 28, there should be a lot left in the tank of this pitcher.

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Lauer has not had any major arm issues throughout his career. The thought is that he would be an effective starter at the tail end of the rotation with the ability to blossom. If Lauer is indeed a late-bloomer, the Padres could sign an undervalued lefty with upside. If worse comes to worse, Lauer would be a useful long-reliever or lefty specialist out of the pen.

There is a lot of familiarity between the two sides. The Padres need pitching, and Lauer needs an opportunity to show his worth. It makes sense for both sides to make this work in 2024, at the very least.

Let’s not get crazy here- Lauer is not an ace. He is arguably not even a top-of-the-order pitcher. But he is capable of eating innings and is left-handed. The Padres currently only have Jay Groome and Adrian Morejon as southpaws capable of pitching in the rotation this coming season. Robby Snelling is capable as well, to a certain degree, though the prospect may need more seasoning before contributing at the major league level.

The Padres need veteran arms who are out to prove themselves. Lauer, with a productive year or two, could cash in and sign a big contract. That is a huge motivational factor, and you must fill your roster with hungry pitchers like that. The Padres need pitching and could do a hell of a lot worse than Eric Lauer. It may be time to bring the former top draft pick home.

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