AJ Preller took the helm of the Padres in late 2014 while the club was coming off a less than inspiring season. Known for his scouting prowess and nearly ludicrous work ethic, Preller had been the force behind a strong Texas international signing program. The hope was that he would be able to turn a well-regarded farm system into a playoff contender. This is a series looking at the past five seasons Opening Day rosters.
2015 Opening Day Starter: James Shields
As the offseason was getting late and a number of high
profile names were already signed the Padres were hoping to land an impact
starter to bolster a robust offseason that brought a plurality of MLB stars to
Petco Park. “Big Game James” signed for a 4 year 75 million dollar contract. At
that time it was the largest free agent contract in club history. This would go
down as the best worst signing because he was traded for Erik Johnson and a
unheralded prospect named Fernando Tatis Jr.
2016 Opening Day Starter: Tyson Ross
Acquired from the A’s in 2012 Tyson Ross was one of the best
pitchers for the Friars from 2013-2015 earning him the inaugural start in 2016.
After appearing on opening day Tyson Ross missed the entire 2016 campaign with
a shoulder injury and later underwent surgery for the mysterious and infamous
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Ross never came back from his injury with the same
stuff or results following his injury but has managed to latch onto a big
league club every season.
2017 Opening Day Starter: Jhoulys Chacin
Chacin was a low cost signing to eat some innings for the
Padres since they started their full-scale rebuild. Despite a lackluster
supporting cast Chacin put up a solid 3.89 ERA across 32 starts and 180.1 IP. He parlayed his performance in San Diego into
a two-year deal with Milwaukee.
2018 Opening Day Starter: Clayton Richard
Richard was on his second stint with the Padres in 2018
mostly providing veteran leadership and eating innings. His opening day start
marks the weakest starting rotation of the rebuild. He ended up with a 5.33 ERA
in 158.2 IP and sent to the Blue Jays in was a salary dump trade during the
2019 Opening Day Starter: Eric Lauer
Lauer was a bit of surprise to start the 2019 season
although the rotation was certainly short on experience. The rotation did not
have many proven options to make the start and in fact the Padres only had four
starters on the official opening day roster. (Eric Lauer, Joey Lucchesi, Chris
Paddack, and Matt Strahm) Lauer performed just shy of a league average pitcher
(95 ERA+) but had fits pitching in Colorado which hurt his bottom line
statistics. Eric Lauer was sent to the Brewers along with infielder Luis Urias
in exchange for Trent Grisham and Zach Davies.
2020 Opening Day Starter
The start of the season is in flux due to the CORVID-19 pandemic restrictions with early reports hoping to see baseball start in May. It is highly unlikely that 2020 will be a full 162 games, which could benefit Dinelson Lamet coming back from TJ and Garrett Richards lack of durability. Chris Paddack seems to have a leg up in the competition for the Opening Day nod due to his strong rookie season and his innings platform. Lamet has the pure stuff to push for the honor of Opening Day starter but a high BB/9 in the majors and recent injury history could see him in the two or three spot. Richards has an outside shot at the inaugural start in a shortened season as the most experienced arm on the staff but his injury history likely pushes him down the depth chart.
TKF contributor Chris Yumen. Follow on Twitter @CySouthbay