Seven Guys Jockeying for Five Spots: The Padres' Starting Rotation

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Three Guys/One Spot: The Battle for #5

As Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune recently alluded to, San Diego will likely have a three-man race for the 5th starter spot and an unheralded but coveted long-relief role this Spring.

 

Dustin Moseley

After signing his arbitration deal with the Padres last week, and establishing himself as the Friars #5 guy last season, Moseley should have the inside track for the job.  It’s his job to lose, and Moseley should be hungry to improve upon his performance in 2011.

Don’t let his 3-10 record from last season fool you.  Moseley’s run support, if you want to call it that, was downright awful last season.  There aren’t a lot of starters in the League who can log a 3.30 ERA and finish with only 3 wins.  Moseley should continue to improve in 2012, and set numerous career highs in 2011.   Before going down due to a left shoulder injury, Moseley had set career highs in starts (20), Innings Pitched (120), and K’s (64).

 

Anthony Bass

A mid/late-season call up, Anthony Bass performed well when asked in 2011.  In 27 appearances (including 3 starts) Bass went 2-0 with a 1.68 ERA over 48.1 Innings Pitched.  Nevertheless, Bass could find himself as part of the numbers game with the signing of Micah Owings and in the event that Moseley locks onto that 5th starter role early.

Bass might have to go the road of Tim Stauffer in 2010 and do a bit of work out of both the rotation and the bullpen, getting spot starts here and there, and logging long innings in long relief to stick.  Bass will definitely be one of the players to watch over the next month and a half to see what sort of role the Padres have in store for him in 2012.

 

Micah Owings (Wild Card)

When the Padres signed Micah Owings to a contract recently, I was intrigued to say the least. Micah Owings is the “Wild Card” in this entire Starting mix.  Why do I say “Wild Card?”  Well, while Owings could be competing for a spot in the back end of the rotation, his bat and penchant for relief pitching could earn him a roster spot for his versatility and ability to spot start when needed.

If Owings makes the roster, he could end up being a very valuable guy to have in terms of long relief if starters end up taking a beating in the early innings.  Moreover, Owings (who finished 8-0 last season as a reliever) could spot start as an unofficial 6th guy in case of a late game scratch to the original starter.  I do believe that Owings will inevitably find a spot on this team and could end up getting significant work doing a number of things as the staff’s Swiss-Army Knife (including pinch hitting) as well.

 

Conclusion

While I believe that the Padres’ Opening Day staff will shake out like this: (Stauffer, Luebke, Volquez, Richard, Moseley), I certainly believe there will be some changes along the way and it likely will not finish as such.  If Volquez benefits from Petco, who knows, he could start reverting back to his old form and pass Luebke and Stauffer.  Maybe Bass will come on at midseason if Moseley and Owings struggle.  Internal big club changes aside, I believe that the staff will get an infusion of youth by season’s end.

Corey Brock discussed the chances of Joe Wieland and Robbie Erlin being September call-ups in one of his recent articles, and alludes to them having great shots to pitch for the Padres by season’s end.  I personally believe that something along these lines will happen (maybe Casey Kelly could make an appearance if he does extremely well), because of where I picked the Padres to finish in my Divisional Preview (5th).

Like they did with Latos and Richard in 2009, I think San Diego will start rewarding the young guys like Erlin and Wieland with innings and experience if the Padres find themselves trailing by a wide margin come late July/early August.  This audition should give the Padres a great chance to evaluate their top rated minor league talent even if things go South.

Disaster Scenario when it comes to the Padres’ postseason chances aside, I’m excited to see how things shake up with the current starters as we head into Spring Training.  It will be interesting to see who emerges, stays healthy, and moves up/down the rotation as Opening Day approaches.

So tell me your thoughts.  Who are your #1-#5 guys and why?  Which players will come though in Peoria?  Etc.

 

Follow me on Twitter (@DominicDiTolla)

 

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