Based on the performance of the rotation last season, and the departure of Ian Kennedy, it seemed pretty clear going into this offseason that the Padres would need some rotation help for next season.
Despite the addition of Drew Pomeranz, and the re-signing of Brandon Morrow, the Padres still lacked the rotational depth they would like. Both pitchers come with some question marks, leaving the Padres with further question marks in the rotation.
On Tuesday, the Padres answered some of those questions. The San Diego Padres will have a new pitcher competing for a job in the starting rotation come Spring Training. However, that player may not be who you think.
— Corey Brock (@FollowThePadres) January 12, 2016
Yes, you read that right. After months of speculation regarding his status in 2016, A.J. Preller and company have officially announced their intentions to give Brandon Maurer a shot in the starting rotation during Spring Training. This gives the Padres yet another option to compete for the fourth and fifth rotation spots behind Tyson Ross, James Shields and Andrew Cashner. Maurer joins Brandon Morrow, Robbie Erlin, Drew Pomeranz, Luis Perdomo, among others as candidates vying for those final two rotation spots.
So by now nearly every diehard Padre fan knows that Maurer will get a chance in the rotation next year. However, there is still uncertainty on whether or not that is a good idea or a bad idea for the team. While many see the benefit of adding yet another capable pitcher to the starting rotation, there is also some potential issues with this type of move.
First off, Brandon Maurer did fantastic in his role for the Padres last year. Maurer was the 7th inning guy in front of Joaquin Benoit and Craig Kimbrel, and performed admirably in that role. Maurer finished the season with an ERA/FIP/xFIP of 3.00/3.31/3.85 with 39 strikeouts in 53 innings. Maurer wasn’t dominant but he was quite effective in his role. Maurer has shown he is a capable reliever, in a league where capable relievers have taken on an increasing importance in recent years.
Second, with the departures of both Joaquin Benoit and Craig Kimbrel via trade this offseason, the Padres bullpen already looks thin in the back-end, even before any potential move of Maurer to the rotation. If the Padres do move Maurer to the rotation that may fix the hole in the rotation, but it creates a more noticeable whole in the bullpen. While Kevin Quackenbush and Nick Vincent have shown themselves to be capable relievers, neither appears ready to handle bigger roles in the back-end based on recent performance. Add to that the uncertainty of many of the other potential bullpen arms such as Jon Edwards, Blake Smith, Josh Martin, Cory Mazzoni, and Buddy Baumann, and the Padres bullpen could become a huge question mark without Brandon Maurer at the back-end.
Finally, Brandon Maurer has seen inconsistent results in his past as a starter at the big league level. In 69 2/3 innings as a starter in 2013, Maurer accumulated an ERA over 6.00. He gave up 88 hits in those innings and opponents slashed .311/.366.525. In 32 1/3 innings as a starter in 2014, the results were even worse, with Maurer accumulating an ERA over 7.00. He gave up 43 hits in those innings and opponents slashed .314/.380/.500 against him. In both years as a starter, Maurer did not seem to handle the role very well. Maurer was much better suited as a starter for the Padres in 2015. The results are clearly night and day from his time in Seattle as a starter compared to his time with the Padres as a reliever.
For a variety of reasons, transitioning Brandon Maurer to the starting rotation full-time could be a bad decision for the Padres. Maurer was fantastic in his role in the bullpen for the Padres in 2015, and struggled mightily in the past as a big league starter. Add to that the fact that the Padres bullpen is already looking rather thin this year, and it makes more sense to leave Maurer in the bullpen at least for the time being. It remains to be seen how Maurer will respond to his transition, but there is a very real possibility that it could blow up in the Padres face.
Editorial and Prospect Writer for East Village Times. Twenty-five years young, Patrick has lived in San Diego for his entire life and has been a Padres fan nearly as long. Patrick lives for baseball and is always looking to learn new things about the game he loves through advanced stats.