Welcome to San Diego, Kyle Lloyd

Credit: Dennis Poroy/ Getty Images

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Credit: Dennis Poroy/ Getty Images


With the trade of Trevor Cahill, Brandon Maurer, and Ryan Buchter to the Kansas City Royals, the Padres not only have two bullpen slots to fill but also one slot in the starting rotation.

Sure, left-hander Travis Wood came back to the Padres in the deal, but it’s unclear if the Padres use him as a starter or reliever for the rest of the season.

With Wood not ready to start on Tuesday night, the Padres turned to 26-year-old right-hander Kyle Lloyd, who was originally selected to start on Wednesday night before Jhoulys Chacin was pushed back a day because of some neck tightness.

So the stage was set: Kyle Lloyd in his major league debut against the New York Mets at Petco Park on Tuesday night.

Lloyd started off his big league career with an 86.7 mph fastball right over the plate for strike one.

After two balls and a second called strike, Lloyd got Curtis Granderson to ground out to second base on an 81.4 mph splitter. Asdrubal Cabrera followed with yet another ground-out to second baseman Carlos Asuaje, this one on a 85.9 mph fastball. Through seven pitches, Lloyd was having a solid start to his big league debut.

However, that’s when one Yoenis Cespedes walked to the plate. Seven pitches later, and Lloyd and the Padres found themselves in a 1-0 hole.


The culprit was a splitter low and inside that caught too much of the plate. Cespedes is a good hitter on all sorts of pitches around the plate, but especially those that are low and inside. Listed below are Cespedes’ isolated power numbers on all pitches. Pitches low and in are probably his favorite to hit.

Courtesy of Fangraphs

Jay Bruce followed with a fly out to right fielder Hunter Renfroe to end the first frame. In the first, Lloyd threw 20 pitches total, including seven fastballs, nine splitters, three changeups, and one sinker. Lloyd’s splitter was obviously his best pitch, as he not only got his only swing and miss on that pitch but also got two weak ground balls with an average exit velocity of just 64.2 mph. He did give up the solo home run on the splitter, but that was a pitch that caught too much of the plate against a hitter who is too good to miss that sort of mistake.

Courtesy of Baseball Savant

After the Padres had a close call at home that resulted in no runs, Lloyd went back to work to start the second inning, inducing a ground out from T.J. Rivera on yet another splitter. Lloyd followed with his first major league strikeout, as he got first baseman Lucas Duda to swing and miss at a sinker well outside the strike zone after getting ahead of him in the count. After Jose Reyes walked in an eight-pitch battle, catcher Travis d’Arnaud lined out to left fielder Jose Pirela to get Lloyd out of the inning.

For Lloyd, he did a little better job of mixing it up in the second inning, throwing five fastballs, six splitters, four changeups, and five sinkers. With a four-pitch mix evenly distributed like that, Lloyd could have some success even if he isn’t hitting in the mid to upper 90s with his fastball.

Courtesy of Baseball Savant

After home runs by Hunter Renfroe and Allen Cordoba gave Kyle Lloyd the lead, he started out his third inning of work with a ground-out by Seth Lugo on a fastball. After Curtis Granderson walked, Asdrubal Cabrera grounded out weakly to the pitcher on a changeup, and Yoenis Cespedes flew out to right field on another splitter. Lloyd threw another 17 pitches in the third inning, this time seven fastballs, two changeups, and eight splitters. He also got two more swinging strikes to go with his two from the second inning and one from the first.

Courtesy of Baseball Savant

After the Padres went down 1-2-3 in the bottom half of the third inning, Lloyd started off the inning giving up back-to-back singles to Jay Bruce and T.J. Rivera, on a changeup and splitter respectively. After two hard line-outs from Lucas Duda and Jose Reyes, of which Duda’s was the harder hit at over 107 mph off the bat, Lloyd was unable to get out of the inning unscathed, as a two-out single by Travis d’Arnaud plated the Mets second run of the game against Lloyd. Lloyd was able to battle back and get Seth Lugo swinging to end the inning. In total, Lloyd threw 20 more pitches in the fourth, 14 splitters, five fastballs, and one changeup.

Courtesy of Baseball Savant

Going into the fifth, it was clear that Lloyd was running out of steam, as he had already thrown 77 pitches through just four innings. After Curtis Granderson and Asdrubal Cabrera led off the fifth with back-to-back doubles, one on a fastball and the other on a splitter, Lloyd was pulled for Kirby Yates, who ended up giving up a double, which closed the book on Kyle Lloyd’s first big league start. In that fifth inning, Lloyd threw four splitters and two fastballs, and didn’t get any swings and misses.

Courtesy of Baseball Savant

So for the final line of his big league debut, Kyle Lloyd pitched four plus innings, gave up six hits, four earned runs, striking out two batters while walking two. In total, Lloyd threw 83 pitches, of those 26 were fastballs, 41 were splitters, 10 were changeups, and six were sinkers. Lloyd ended up inducing 10 swings and misses altogether, six of which were on his splitter. Of all his pitches, the sinker was hit the hardest, with an average exit velocity of 96.3 mph.

Courtesy of Baseball Savant

All in all, it was a pretty successful debut for the Padres right-hander. He’s not going to be some overpowering pitcher, but he should be able to get the job done on a rebuilding team just looking for some solid innings. Lloyd will need to do a better job of mixing up his velocity and pitches going forward, as he was much too heavy on the sliders and nearly all his pitches sat in the same 80-85 mph range, but there was some bright spots on Tuesday night. It remains unclear whether Lloyd will end up back in the minors in the short-term if Travis Wood ends up slotting in the rotation, but with other possible trade candidates in the rotation, Lloyd may end up back in San Diego sooner rather than later.

On top of all that, Lloyd is just a class act. You can see how much pitching in the big leagues with the Padres means to him and how grateful he is for the opportunity.

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