Three young left-handed pitchers provide depth for the San Diego Padres’ pitching staff in 2021.
Pitching became an issue for the San Diego Padres in 2020.
After clinching a playoff birth for the first time in 14 years, the Padres immediately suffered two tragic injuries to their starting staff. Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger both went down at inopportune moments for the Friars. The Padres were able to survive their series with the Cardinals, but the lack of depth ended their season against the Dodgers.
A.J. Preller is never one to rest on his laurels, and he addressed the issue in a major way this winter. The team acquired yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Joe Musgrove in a flurry of deals reminiscent of the 2015 off-season. There is a much-more calculated purpose in the additions made this winter, so any comparison can only be made in reference to the excitement the acquisitions created in San Diego.
The San Diego Padres are for real, and a lot of their expected success comes from the fact that the team has major depth.
The starting five seems to be set on paper as Darvish, Snell, and Musgrove should be joined on the staff by Dinelson Lamet and Chris Paddack. This grouping of pitchers will strike batters out consistently, and there is every reason to believe this unit will be successful.
At this point, Dinelson Lamet’s balky elbow is the only question mark for the Padres. If he were to be lost for a significant time, the Padres have three 21-year-old lefties waiting in the wings. Let’s take a quick look at the trio and how each could play a vital role for the Padres in 2021.
The hype train is about to hit the station, and there is every reason to believe all you have heard about him. The work-ethic and athleticism are unreal with this young pitcher. Gore is also blessed with a blazing fastball and multiple offspeed pitches that grade well above average. He will succeed at the major league level. The only question is, how good can he be? Health, as with any pitcher, will be huge for Gore. His mechanics reportedly got out of whack last season, and that is why he was not showcased by the club late in the year. The Padres wisely pulled back on the reigns with Gore to not risk any mechanical flaws that could result in injury.
In 2021, the outlook seems bright that Gore will factor for the major league club. He should debut for the Padres at some point, and that will likely come as a starting pitcher. With a quality spring against major league-type hitters, Gore could be given a shot to pitch in the rotation as a sixth-man. A.J. Preller made mention of this notion recently, and the Padres are scheduled to play 25 games in 27 days to open the season. If Gore were allowed to start every time around, the left-hander could run with it and not look back. Some scouts and evaluators feel that he will never be sent down once he debuts in the majors.
Before the 2020 season, there were major concerns about Morejon’s maturity and growth on the mound. In the minors, the lefty would lose focus fairly easily, and that frustrated some in the organization. In Padres’ brown, we saw a whole new pitcher, and a lot of that has to do with the fact he is still extremely young. Morejon pitched dominantly, at times, last year for the Padres out of the pen. He has never really gone deep as a pitcher and has rarely thrown over 30-40 pitches in a contest. The pitching arsenal is deep for this lefty as he mixes pitches well with his knuckle-change.
The Padres may want to utilize Morejon out of the pen in 2021 and possibly as an occasional spot-starter or opener. With his age, the sky is the limit, though. Like Gore, Morejon’s spring performance will dictate a lot about his future. If he impresses early, he could get the nod on the above mentioned six-man rotation idea. Expect the young Cuban to get stronger and fill out physically in 2021. If Morejon can continue to mature and develop with his craft, the Padres will have a great problem on their hands in determining who gets to start the game each day.
Coming out of the pen last year in the playoffs and hitting high 90s on the radar gun, Weathers is surely an option for the Padres moving forward. He suffered through a tired arm in the minors and had some physical issues as well, but the lefty responded hugely in 2020. He impressed the Padres in a big way and was able to perform in a huge way on the national stage against the Dodgers.
The son of a major leaguer, Weathers comes with thick skin and a pedigree of success. Of the three, Weathers seems the most likely to remain in the bullpen. He does not have a true “out-pitch,” though he does throw three pitches above average. In time, Weathers could easily develop that pitch needed to put major league hitters away consistently. The Padres may utilize him in the rotation at some point. It is just difficult to predict the future. You can be sure of one thing when it comes to the Padres- A.J. Preller and his staff have options, and they would not have it any other way.