Two bits of news occurred this weekend for the Padres. The good news was that the Friars’ bats finally came alive during their 8-4 victory over the Dodgers, which in turn helped San Diego avoid an Opening Series sweep at the hands of their hated rivals. The bad news however was that Saturday’s starter and 5th man in the rotation Dustin Moseley suffered a shoulder strain which will put him on the 15-Day DL. It’s tough to see another shoulder (this time his right one) injury happen to a guy who missed significant time last year with one like Moseley. Plus, it’s never good to see a starter and valuable piece of the Starting Rotation go out so early with an arm issue. Nevertheless, Moseley’s injury and subsequent absence could pay dividends and give a tremendous opportunity to a Pitcher such as Anthony Bass.
Bass From 2011-Present
As of right now, Bass has the inside track to assume Moseley’s until further notice, and has done enough so far to warrant said consideration. Last season Bass did well as a late-season call-up, and in 27 appearances (including 3 starts) Bass went 2-0 with a 1.68 ERA over 48.1 Innings Pitched. Big things were thus expected of Bass in 2012, and he was thought by many including Padres Beat Writer Corey Brock to get work in the bullpen and in the starting rotation like Cory Luebke did last season.
After a solid Spring Training where he went 2-0 in 15.0 Innings with 9 K’s and a 3.00 ERA, Bass has done a decent job in his first two outings. On Opening Day, Bass pitched two solid innings of scoreless ball in relief of Edinson Volquez, but he was chalked up with a Loss in his last outing on Saturday. Despite only giving up 1 run and 2 hits in 2 Innings, it was the winning run in a game where San Diego had no business even being in had the Dodgers not fallen apart in the 5th Inning due to Walks and Wild Pitches.
Previous Loss aside, Bass will be the first in line to start on either Thursday (Moseley’s scheduled start), or Saturday as was reported in the San Diego Union-Tribune. The timing of Moseley’s injury itself could not have come at a more opportune time for Bass to take advantage as well, because of the high-level of competition that Bass may soon face over the coming months for chances to start.
Nipping at Bass’ heels if he does not perform up to standard or does not take advantage of this current opportunity are the “Young Guns” in Triple-A Tucson (Joe Wieland and Casey Kelly) and Double-A San Antonio (Robbie Erlin). All three figure to start at some point for San Diego in the next two to two and a half seasons, and Wieland and Kelly could be with the big club as early as this year. Also, despite being more of a long reliever (as he illustrated in long relief in the 6-0 Loss on Friday) Micah Owings could also see some spot starts if Bass does not perform up to par, and has a good deal of starting experience for Cincinnati and Arizona throughout his career. And as a bit of a “Wild-Card,” Set-Up Man and fire-baller Andrew Cashner has had starting experience before (while in Chicago), and could possibly transition to the rotation if he is needed there due to other injuries or poor performance by Bass and others as well. Possible competition aside, the job will be Bass’ to lose for as long as Moseley is out as he is getting the next start, and he will be an integral part of the rotation until further notice if he performs well and does nothing to lose said job.
As I and many have said before, the Major League Baseball season is “a marathon not a sprint.” Injuries happen, and finding ways to plug holes at injury riddled positions for periods of time is vital for any team wishing to at least stay competitive during a season. I’ll be rooting hard for Bass to take advantage of his opportunity because he has displayed good potential as a starter, and should figure into San Diego’s long-term plans in terms of their pitching staff. Plus, it generally does not hurt for a somewhat inexperienced player to gain experience “on the fly,” especially during a somewhat re-tooling season for a San Diego team which is very young. If Bass does not pitch well, he will likely go back to the bullpen and share long-relief duties with Owings. Bass is a big league pitcher and has the stuff to succeed and contribute at the highest level. Still, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Bass will take advantage of Moseley’s absence, and thus make it next to impossible for Black and the rest of the Coaching Staff to remove him from the rotation. The more successful starting pitching, the better for the Padres, because with their Offense, it will be difficult for the Padres to stay in games each and every day without solid production on the front end of their rotation.