So, here we are. The start to a brand new season. Spring Training is upon us. Eric Hosmer is upon us. The Hot Lava talent is slowly drudging down the mountain waiting to overtake the city leaving Petco Park a statue of smoldering ash. As we prepare for another year of the BUILD, the Kept Faith staff has decided to take a look at each group of players fighting to earn a spot on the Padres erupting volcano. First up: Starting pitchers.
Jesus Christ. Here I am in 2018 writing about Clayton Richard. Almost six years ago I wrote about Richard for FanSided back in the ChickenFriars days. In that article I revisited the trade that brought Richard to the Padres in 2009. Most of us I imagine, well I did anyway, forget that Richard came to us via trade with the White Sox for former Padres ace Jake Peavy. Richard was a good prospect and had a great 2010 with the Friars. Then surgery, then whatever, then more whatever, and here he is, once again battling for the opening day starter spot. THE OPENING DAY STARTER SPOT. Jesus Christ. Anyway, last year wasn’t a total bust for Richard. He was fine. Most people are calling his stats respectable, and most of those people are Padres fans looking for the silver lining. A 4.79 ERA and 0.4 WAR isn’t respectable it just is a stat. And, yes the king of hating sabermetrics just used WAR to prove how ridiculous we all sound thinking Richard is anything but Brian Lawrence or Kevin Jarvis or best case scenario Matt Clement. I will say his 151 strikeouts last year was nothing to shake a stick at, and with just 59 walks in 197 innings, well, okay, I’m listening. It’s hard however not to notice that Richard has performed best when used out of the bullpen. Not stellar. But, fine. In fact, that should probably be his nickname: “Fine”. Clayton “Fine” Richard. A possible ace for us and 4th or 5th starter for most other clubs. It’s fine. He’s like the one place you always go to for breakfast with family. It’s never amazing, but it’s familiar and cheap, and you keep going back because you’re always hoping to be pleasantly surprised. PREDICTION: Opening Day starter just to fuck with us.
Well, hello new guy. Coming over from the Yankees in the Jabari Blash “blockbuster” deal, which literally led to the greatest Mark Grant tweet of all time, Mitchell was highly touted by Padres brass. In fact, they liked him in New York, but he didn’t have a spot. Can we also just take a second and be amazed that we got ANYTHING for Jabari Blash? Like, Mitchell could end up being a solid No. 3, or No. 4, and as much as I have always believed Chase Headley was more overrated than Hoosiers, it’s almost unbelievable that that trade was completed. Anyway, my honest to God ceiling for Bryan Mitchell, assuming he breaks into the rotation, is Woody Williams circa 2000. My worst case scenario is that he winds up going long out of the pen and becoming the next “Ah yea, that guy had good stuff” reliever. PREDICTION: No. 5 starter.
There used to be a Christian indie pop band from New Jersey called Danielson, and that’s the first thing I always think of when I read Dinelson Lamet. Oddly enough, their careers have had a similar arch. Not a huge excitement for their arrivals, established an interesting presence when they finally landed, and have carved out a reputation that will celebrate potential and be wary of results. Praise God. Lamet has a lot of plus potential, which he flashed last season, even coaxing me to pick him up in Fantasy. I dropped him after a few starts, and that will pretty much be his 2018 season. A few good starts, a few awful ones, and one or two stellar games that remind us he has a lot left to uncover. PREDICTION: No. 2 starter.
Rule V, Rule 5, Rule Five. We get it. At this point Perdomo being a rule five guy is the new ‘Antonio Gates played basketball’, or the ‘Dan Sileo is your racist uncle’ of San Diego sports. Listen, we all want Perdomo to be great. We want it because not only does some of his stuff look electric at times, it’s because sometimes it is electric. He reminds me of Adam Eaton. A guy we all wanted to believe was Jake Peavy, until we got Jake Peavy. Adam Eaton at times was a flipping awesome pitcher, who was fun to watch, but looking at his stats you’re reminded that he was actually kind of bad. Perdomo has been talked about like he could be our ace one day or like he could be cut immediately. The truth is somewhere in the middle, but it should be somewhere in long relief. PREDICTION: No. 4 starter for some fucking reason.
I know I’m making a lot of late 90’s early 2000’s Padres pitcher references, but remember Carlton Loewer? If you do, kudos. If not, he had a great mustache, and was also “the next big thing in San Diego”. He was gonna be a solid starter for at least five years. But, Loewer could just never stay healthy. Something always popped up, and it always sounded career-ending to the point where you actually would forget he was on the roster until you were watching a game, and HEY, LOOK! Loewer is pitching! Does all this sound familiar, Robbie Erlin? It does to me. PREDICTION: Injured before April.
I could pretty much say “See Above” for this one, and I’m tempted to, but I won’t. Totally. Rea is a curse on the Padres organization. Truly he needs to just be gone now. I don’t mean that he is a bad person or not a good father, or whatever it is that media people try to use to defend people who Twitter doesn’t like. He just reminds me non-stop about AJ Preller’s dark underbelly. He reminds me of the trade that never was. The trade that gave us doubts about Preller Power. The trade that made the fans even more of a laughing stock than we already were. Listen, we paid for all the surgeries and rehab and blah blah blah and yes, it’s time to see if that money got us anything, but honestly? Just let him go. Trade him for Fernando Tatis III. I don’t care. At best he’s a No. 3, at worst he’s in the doctor’s office. He’s a placeholder for about ten other pitchers I’d rather waste time on, and at this point I’d rather waste time on…um…Robbie Erlin. PREDICTION: Bullpen and first option once Jordan Lyles gets hurt.
Speaking of. Man, I don’t know. I legitimately can’t find one thing I like about this guy. I want to like him. I feel like at some point he was supposed to be something, like a prospect or something, first round pick or whatever, but that was a decade ago. I just…like, cool? His name is Jordan? The fact that he’s competing for a rotation spot is flipping strange. I DON’T KNOW! What do you want me to say???? Something about if he can just get his curveball on the right track, or Balsley can change his grip then it will finally all come together? Is that what you want? Then there, you got it. Maybe his eighth year in the bigs is the year! PREDICTION: No. 3 starter because Uncle Ron likes spending the big bucks!
Okay, now were getting back on track. I like Strahm. I like him a lot. Mainly because most people hated him back in July when he came over from the Royals. He was a reliever looked at as a “throw in” in that deal. Well, now he’s fighting for a rotation spot and showing people why 2016’s 1.23 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 22 innings might have not been a fluke. True I think his subpar 2017 also showed us what doubling your walks will do, and maybe that might be something to fix. He hasn’t looked great in Spring, and is coming off a pretty rough injury, but he has potential. More raw potential than most fighting for a rotation spot. I like him. Also because he looks like if Kylo Ren was named Matt Strahm. PREDICTION: Bullpen.
He had a great 2015. He got into an awesome fight with Derek Lee. He was hit so hard with a baseball I thought we’d all go cross-eyed. He’s tall. He takes forever on the mound. He’s old. He was awful last year and cut by the ROYALS. But, hey! If we’re letting Perdomo and Lyles try then why not? Chris Young finding his way back to the rotation could be fun. Could be a great time, and I honestly don’t care. It’s a low risk/medium reward scenario. Have you seen how big the jumbotron is?! PREDICTION: Bullpen for the memories.
This one I find very interesting. It’s kind of a chance for Preller and Co to redeem themselves. When Ross was a highly touted young arm, they drug their feet and wouldn’t deal him unless they got a big return. When nothing materialized and Ross couldn’t throw, they let him go with nothing to show for it. A huge front office blunder that they’re hoping we’ll all forget about when Ross breaks into the rotation and shows us why he was highly touted to begin with. Plus, I like using the word “touted”. Unlike Young, this is a low risk/high reward scenario and can actually legitimately bridge a gap between 2018 and 2020 when the Padres will go undefeated the entire season. I mean, think of it. If Ross can be what we always hoped he’d be that would mean he and Lamet could be crafty veterans leading the rotation by the time Quantrill, Gore, and hopefully Espinoza are ready. I like it. I like it a lot. PREDICTION: Doesn’t make the team, but does get another dog.
For more expert sports stuff, and things you probably won’t care about, follow me on Twitter @dallas_mc