This season has been anything but “smooth sailing” for numerous starting pitchers in the Padres’ organization, especially from a health perspective. As you the readers might have seen once or twice on this site, the Padres have already used 14 different starting Pitchers during the 2012 regular season, and the “injury bug” has ravaged both the big club and the minor league system.
From old to young, the injuries have not discriminated which Friars Pitchers to derail this season, and San Diego has featured a revolving door of guys trying to hold down the fort since early April. So far, Dustin Moseley, Cory Luebke, and youngster Joe Wieland have all seen their 2012 seasons evaporate due to various ailments. What has been just as terrible is that Tim Stauffer, Anthony Bass, Andrew Cashner, as well as prospects Casey Kelly and Robbie Erlin have all missed significant time too with their own health problems. I know its shocking to think about, but Clayton Richard and Edinson Volquez are the only two Starters left from San Diego’s 5-man rotation when the regular season began.
Thankfully, there has been some good news on the “injury front” for the Friars’ and their starting pitchers. Over the last week, Padres.com Beat Writer Corey Brock reported that three of these injured starters in the forms of Stauffer, Erlin, and Kelly are working their way back and showing some progress to boot.
When he has been healthy, Stauffer has been consistent on the mound for the Padres and can eat a decent amount of Innings. Projected to be the Opening Day starter, Stauffer has only pitched in 1 game all season long, and has only now started to throw in a bullpen session. San Diego has missed Stauffer all season long, and his presence surely could have been used during the team’s rocky April-June start. Thankfully for Stauffer and the Friars alike, Brock reported that Tim threw 30-35 pitches in his bullpen session and could be ready in close to three weeks. However long it may take, and whether or not he is a long-reliever or starter to finish the year are still question marks, but it cannot hurt for Stauffer to get some reps to close the season on a high note or two before the 2013 season begins, and he can compete to get his #1 job back.
Kelly & Erlin
I for one was pretty darn salty when Kelly and Erlin both went down early in the season. Both might have been behind Wieland in terms of their development to start the season, but had they been healthy they would have likely received shots to start with the big club and strut their stuff instead of sitting on the D.L. while veteran Free Agents have taken away their reps.. The sad part was that both players were having decent seasons before they got injured, as Kelly was posting a 2.25 ERA in Triple-A Tucson, and Erlin had a 2-1 Record and a 2-1 ERA in San Antonio. Both appear to be back on track now, because Kelly threw in an Arizona League game last week, and Erlin faced live batting practice on Wednesday.
The future of this franchise will rest on these youngsters’ arms in Pitcher-friendly Petco, and “all hands must be on deck” if the Padres are looking to compete in the Pitching loaded N.L. West division. Erlin and Kelly however cannot rest on their laurels as they will likely face some stiff competition next season from Donn Roach, a Pitcher who came over in a trade with the Angels a couple of months ago, and has lit it up this season between Single-A and Double-A.
At this point, any news is good news in terms of the starters working their way back from injuries. With all of the talent, especially young talent, the Friars have at their disposal, this team could do some special things come 2013 or 2014 if all, let alone half of these guys can stay out on the field. Kudos must also go to Mr. Brock for giving us fans some hope and reporting on the subject. Let us just cross our fingers that all three, along with the rest of the litany of injured starters, can come back stronger in 2012, 2013, 2014, and beyond.