When my son was born, I turned to my wife and said, “I hope he’s left handed.” It wasn’t to satisfy some balance of power to which I thought the world needed more left-handed people. It was because in baseball, left-handed pitchers can find spots in a system even if their stuff is mediocre. Being left-handed increases a pitcher’s chances of making and staying in the big leagues. For the Padres, rather than mediocrity, they have a crew of left-handed pitchers that might rival anything the club has had in recent memory.
The Padres 40-man roster includes six lefties. Four of them have big league experience. Two of them are penciled in as part of the team’s starting rotation. Below is the list, and we will take a lookat each in more detail.
30-28/4.20 ERA/6.3 K per nine/3.6 BB per nine
Richard is one of this players the Padres hoped would develop more. That’s not to say he hasn’t been successful, but his potential was higher than his actual output. He’s been hampered by injuries, but he has still managed to be a serviceable starter for the Padres. Pitching in San Diego, it’d be best to see Richard’s ERA below 4.00, and he can still get it there with a strong performance this season. However, for a left-handed pitcher that costs just $2.71 million, the team could do worse.
Richard, for his career, has a sub-.500 record prior to the All-Star break (14-16), but he is above .500 after the break (16-12).
*ESPN always manages to find the most obscure stats possible, Some of them are interesting. Some are pointless. I thought it’d be interesting to search out some stats for each of these pitchers that would be fit for ESPN.
7-11/3.38 ERA/9.8 K per nine/2.9 BB per nine
Luebke burst onto the scene last year as he was converted from a reliever to a starter. He, unlike Clayton
Richard, has out-performed expectations so far. I wrote about Luebke’s potential back on March 9th, and I’m not backing off that analysis. despite Keith Law’s belief that Luebke can never be a number one starter, he has shown enough to make me wonder.*
*Of course, Keith Law is infinitely smarter than me when it comes to this. That’s why he has afforded himself the ability to turn down front office jobs to remain an analyst
Cory Luebke tied for the seventh fewest walks in all of baseball among left-handed pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched last season.
0-2/2.73 ERA/9.4 K per nine/5.8 BB per nine
Spence made his Major League debut last June, and he did not disappoint. His K/9 numbers were fantastic, and the strikeouts allowed him to pitch out of jams. He doesn’t figure to be a starter down the line at any point, but he can be a capable reliever. Spence is still working to make the major league roster, but if he continues to impress when he is given the opportunity, he could find himself as a mainstay among the Padres pen.
Josh Spence saw his ERA rise from 0.00 in June, to 0.69 for the month of July, to 4.09 for the month of August, and finally to 16.20 for the month of September/October.
4-6/3.36 ERA/9.4 K per nine/3.4 BB per nine
Joe Thatcher is one of those players that flies under the radar. He was an un-drafted free agent. The Brewer bought his contract from an independent league team then traded him to the Padres. But in his time with the Padres, Thatcher has been a lefty specialist. He can get both righties and lefties out, but as a left-handed arm out of the pen, the Padres have used him situationally for the most part. At 30-years old, Thatcher is no longer a prospect or rising star. He’s been part of the Padres bullpen for the last five years, and will be there at least this year as the team avoided arbitration with him early in the process.
When given six or more days rest, Joe Thatcher has struggled. Last year, he had an ERA of 7.71 when appearing after six or more days rest.
Career (minor league) numbers:
31-16/2.76 ERA/9.9 K per nine/3.2 BB per nine
Oramas was a Dominican recruit and played in the Padres Dominican Republic camp in 2007. In the Dominican Summer League, Oramas put up decent numbers, but not enough to ear a promotion to Single-A. He returned to the league in 2008 and dominated with a 1.02 ERA. Since then, Oramas has pitched at every level except the majors. He is considered on of the Padres best young pitching prospects. Seedlings to Stars considers him the fifth best pitching prospect in the organization. So far this spring Oramas has a 7.20 ERA in three games.
In each of his four minor league levels (A, A+, AA, AAA), Oramas’ K% has dropped while his BA against has increased, but his left-on-base percentage has decreased.
Jose De Paula
Career (minor league) numbers:
25-18/3.81 ERA/8.3 K per nine/2.5 BB per nine
De Paula is another Dominican product. He made it as high as High-A ball with Lake Elsinore last season, but he has not yet put together the type of performances that would warrant a call-up to the major league level anytime soon. He has a history of elbow problems, but no surgery. Not many in the organization see De Paula as a starter if he eventually cracks the majors. He may end up being a lefty specialist. However, the one big thing going for him is his age. At just 22, he has some time to prove himself.
De Paula gave up just four home runs last year in California League play. That was good enough for the fewest in the league with a minimum of 100 innings-pitched.
Which Padres lefty do you think will have the biggest impact?