How Will the Padres Manage Their Pitching Depth in the Years to Come?

Credit: MiLB

Along with a strong farm system, the Padres have many talented young arms within that same pipeline.

From lower-level pitchers such as MacKenzie Gore, Luis Patino, and Osvaldo Hernandez , to guys in higher levels like Adrian Morejon, Michel Baez, and Logan Allen, it’s clear the organization is brimming with talented hurlers.

With so much depth in pitching, how are the Padres going to deal with a potential overflow of deserving pitchers to be in their rotation, or roster for that matter?

Towards the end of this season, the team doesn’t have much reason to be concerned about this kind of thing happening.

Come next season, and the years to come, though, the Padres will very likely have some dilemmas on their hands as far as distributing playing time among their pitchers.

Take a look at the pitchers who figure to be available to the team in the rotation.

More specifically, lets look at the 2019 and 2020 seasons:

 

 

2019:

2020:

That’s twelve pitchers available for use in the 2019 rotation, and thirteen that would have a good case for being starting pitchers during 2020.

Even if the team was using a six-man rotation, what would they do with the other pitchers? These things have a way of working themselves out, and injuries are inevitable. That’s somewhat of a cop-out, though — figuring out how the team may handle the situation is important.

Credit: Missions

First of all, the young arms who have been listed, such as Chris Paddack and Logan Allen, have yet to prove themselves in the major leagues. Jacob Nix has only made one start, so he still needs to pitch for longer to lay claim to a start every five or six days. The same can be said of Adrian Morejon and Michel Baez, who are the furthest of the pitchers listed above from the major leagues. Matt Strahm has made some starts this year, but has spent the majority of the season in the bullpen. Perhaps he stays there long-term, but his stuff is good enough to start and the Padres seem keen on giving him that chance. We’ve included him as a candidate to be in the rotation, but he may end up in the bullpen.

The most obvious way to deal with this kind of dilemma would be to simply trade some of the pitching depth to other teams in return for hitters that could beef up the lineup for the Padres. That’s the simplest way to deal with a surplus of anything in life — getting rid of it in exchange for something else that one probably needs more of.

That’s no fun to think about though, and too difficult to project because we’re dealing with pitchers who are naturally more volatile, along with the fact that predicting events a year to two years in advance is quite difficult. So let’s imagine some ways the Padres may deal with such a dilemma more creatively.

Below are some ideas for how the team could utilize all the pitchers listed above in various roles in 2019:

  1. Six-man rotation with some pitchers making piggy-back starts:

Here’s the rotation:

  1. Joey Lucchesi
  2. Jacob Nix
  3. Dinelson Lamet / Logan Allen —  Piggy-Back
  4. Matt Strahm / Brett Kennedy — Piggy-Back
  5. Chris Paddack
  6. Robbie Erlin

The idea here is to utilize more pitchers in the rotation to decrease the workloads of all the starters. Doing this also mitigates certain pitchers’ issues of facing hitters multiple times through the order. Dinelson Lamet is a classic example of this, because his ERA last year when facing hitters the third time was 8.86. Having shorter outings from the pitchers who are piggy-backed together also allows their stuff to play up, as they’d only be throwing three or four innings at a time. Furthermore, we’ve specifically paired pitchers together to piggy-back who throw with opposite arms, so opposing teams will only be able to exploit pitchers’ splits against righties or lefties while one of the Padres’ pitchers is throwing.

Bullpen

Closer:

Kirby Yates

Setup:

Robert Stock

Craig Stammen

Middle Relief:

Trey Wingenter

Jose Castillo

Luis Perdomo

This Bullpen is looking pretty strong, right? From top to bottom, we should feel pretty comfortable with any of these guys pitching the late innings. Luis Perdomo is included because he seems like the kind of pitcher who might be really good if he only had to throw an inning or two at a time. His fastball could be in the upper nineties, and he’d only really have to throw one other secondary pitch to be successful out of the bullpen.

There are a multitude of ways in which the Padres could handle a situation like this in the years to come, and time will likely remove the necessity of the team implementing a creative solution like the one above. Injuries and decreases in performance usually mitigate the severity of dilemmas such as this. At the moment though, it’s looking increasingly likely the Padres have to at least decide which five or six pitchers they end up placing in their rotation at some point next year. It’s always good to have seven or eight pitchers in the rotation because of the frequency with which pitchers get injured. Whatever happens, the Padres figure to have a highly impressive pitching staff in the years to come.

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Conrad Parrish
Sophomore at Willamette University in Oregon. Majoring in Spanish and Psychology, but also a writing center assistant for other students at school. Been a Padres die-hard my whole life, and hope to bring comprehensible statistical analysis to the site.

This article has 8 Comments

  1. Made my own list yesterday for 2018 “bulk of season”. Permit me to address two additional players: pay for an ace and a closer in FA/trade. 😁 Same thinking as Hosmer. It will pay off over the long-term.

    CF Margot (R)
    1B Hosmer (L)
    SS Tatis, Jr. (R)
    3B Myers. (R)
    RF Renfroe. (R)
    LF Cordero. (L)
    C Hedges. (R)
    2B Urias. (R)

    C/3B/OF Mejia (S)
    OF Jankowski (L)
    IF Galvis (S)
    OF/1B Reyes (R
    IF/OF Spangenberg (L)

    1 Bumgarner
    2 Lamet
    3 Lucchesi
    4 Lauer
    5 Paddack
    Nix
    Quantril

    CL Britton
    SU Yates
    SU Castillo
    Strahm
    Stock
    Wingenter
    Wieck
    Maton
    Torres
    LR Erlin
    LR Perdomo

    Pitchers by group not official 25 man.

    Trade/DFA others like Stammen, Mitchell, Kaz, and Richard, Pirella, Villanueva, Ellis, Dickerson, etc.

    1. I like that you’ve thought about this to such a degree, and I agree with some of what you wrote. However, there is no way Hosmer should be batting 2nd, if that was a lineup. A team whose #2 hitter has an OPS of .709 is going to suck. And unless they bring in Dusty Baker, no other non-brain dead manager will tolerate it for very long.
      Next, if you think the Giants will trade Bumgarner and not insist on Tatis or Urias I think you are dreaming. It would a farm system restocking move for them and the price will be steep. We won’t keep our best prospects and get their best player, not going to happen,
      Lastly, I would not be so quick to trade Stammen (he’s a good, reliable reliever), Richard (for what? who wants a 5.00 ERA starter? whereas he has some value for SD: young pitchers can learn from watching a guy who works quickly, pitches within himself, stays in control of his emotions, throws strikes and goes 6 innings every time out), or even Ellis (he certainly has hit this year, and you need to have some leadership in the clubhouse, and I’m not buying Hosmer and his refusal to alter his hitting approach as setting the right tone).
      In addition to moving on from Pirela, the team needs to call an end to the Spangenberg and Asuaje time. These guys have had their chances and just don’t look like ML-ers. Utility positions can be filled from the AAA roster.

  2. Good article. As I see it, here’s how they start out 2019, barring a major trade:
    1. Clayton Richard–but not for long; just until another young arm is able to upend him.
    2. Joel Lucchessi–he’s here to stay.
    3. Eric Lauer
    4. Jacob Nix
    5. Matt Strahm

    They will all be on short leashes–especially Richard (obviously), and Strahm (while I like him, he still hasn’t proven he’s an everyday SP in the bigs). Paddack, Allen, Quantrill, and/or Lamet (when he’s recovered from TJ surgery) should be ready to step in fairly early on in case of an injury or one of the starting five falls short.

    If he’s still around, Erlin will be a swing-man. Perdomo and Mitchell are both gone.

    Intangible: At least one of these young guys, maybe more, will be gone at the start of 2019 as part of a trade for a 3B and/or frontline SP. By midseason, Richard will be out of the rotation, and either in long relief or looking for work elsewhere.

    1. The Padres will give Perdomo a shot in the Pen before parting ways, unless he is included in a trade. Perdomo has a live arm and could end up as a terrific bullpen piece.

  3. 2019 will sort itself relatively easy. There will be at least one major trade this offseason that will lessen some of the congestion. You need a minimum of 8 starting pitchers (3 either in minors and/or in bullpen) during a season because of injuries.
    2020 will be a bit more problematic, but you will be getting a lot more quality arms (e.g. Gore, etc.) so it is a great problem to have.

  4. The “piggy backing” of young pitchers is an interesting option for a team with so many young arms. I know it is done in the Minor leagues, but I can’t recall it ever being done in the Majors. Having 2 such “piggy backs” would be less taxing on the bullpen, unless of course both pitchers both stunk on the same day. If any team were to try something like this, it would be the Padres as Preller and Co. seem to think outside the box and Green seems willing to try anything as well.

  5. You fail to mention the 3 pitchers who may be better than all of those listed – Gore, Espinoza and Patino.
    It’s a nice problem to have, isn’t it!

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