In a curious decision, the Padres have moved righthander Radhames Liz, who was in major league camp as a relief pitcher, into the starting rotation at Triple-A Portland.
Liz, 26, had a horrific year with the Orioles as a starter in 2008: he posted a 6.72 ERA, and his defense-independent indicators said he was a 6.00 ERAish pitcher.
Moved to relief last year in Triple-A, Liz excelled for the Orioles, cutting his walks down and unleashing high-90’s heat.
Liz sits in the 91-95 mph range as a starter, but jumps to 93-98 in relief. An erratic pitcher, his wildness is less of an issue in short stints than longer ones.
Liz has struggled his entire career to find a consistent breaking pitch to complement his heater and average changeup. He’s toyed with both a slider and curve, but the curve never saw the light of day in the majors and the slider is well below average.
Of course, in relief, he can be more of a Fernando Rodney/Edwar Ramirez style fastball/changeup pitcher, eschewing the slider in most situations. This is a bit more problematic in a starting role (just look at Cole Hamels’ curveball issues last postseason).
At 26, it’s not like Liz is likely to find a slider, good mechanics, and command later in his career–it’s best for the Padres to try to cater to his limitations rather than try to make him fix problems that the Orioles tried and failed to fix for the better part of a decade.
That means keeping him in the bullpen. Apparently, the player development department has other ideas.
Then again, he did throw five solid innings in his first start, so what the hell do I know?