Positive things, no matter how insignificant they currently seem, have started to happen for the Padres as of late. You know, moves like Carlos Quentin and Huston Street being locked up, to the lineup’s recent power-surge and increase in productivity, to some consistency being found in the starting rotation held together with what has seemed like duct tape all year, to the team being sold and subsequently purchased by the Fowler-O’Malley-led ownership group, etc..
One other important positive which many might have overlooked should be paying dividends by the end of this season to early on in 2013: San Diego’s starting pitchers continuing to get healthy and improving during their rehab stints. Last week I referenced how Tim Stauffer, Casey Kelly, and Robbie Erlin were on the road to recovery, and now it has been reported that three more of the Padres’ injured starters have started to make their comebacks off of the Disabled List as well: Anthony Bass, Andrew Cashner, and Cory Luebke.
Bass, Cashner, and Luebke
Earlier in the week, Beat Writer Chelsea Janes on the Padres’ Team Website discussed how Anthony Bass and Andrew Cashner are no longer members of the Friars’ “Breakfast Club” for injured players, and I for one could not be happier about the news.
While his stats might not have indicated it this season, Bass made some huge strides in 2012, and did so in a season where he was not even pegged to start the year in the 5-man rotation. Overall, Bass logged a 2-7 Record with a 4.70 ERA, but both of his Wins against Philadelphia and Washington were quite impressive (0 ER against Phillies, 1 ER against Washington), and threw a Complete Game (8.0 Innings) Loss to San Francisco back in late April. Bass has been on the Disabled List since late June with his shoulder injury, so he has only made 16 starts on the season. Regardless, Bass (along with Cashner) threw bullpen sessions on Wednesday, will be pitching at the Spring Training Complex in Arizona on Friday (as reported by Padres.com Corey Brock), and hopefully could pitch towards the end of the season.
Despite starting the year as the Padres’ Set-up man (3-3 record, 3.44 ERA), Andrew Cashner might find his niche as a starter on this ballclub. Although he made only 3 starts this season, Cashner did a fine job in his outing against Houston when he no-hit the Astros into the 7th Inning, and appeared to be doing fine until he injured his lat during his next start against Arizona. Cashner is a bit of a “wild-card” as a starter though, because the chance still exists that the team could use him in the Set-up man role again. But if some of the Padres younger Relievers can prove themselves worthy in the aforementioned role, Cashner could be moved to a Starter full-time at some point in 2013. At least to me, Cashner deserves to start again as long as he can keep his Pitch Count down and control somewhat effective. Because with Pitches which reach into the lower triple digits, Cashner could be a valuable force every fifth day.
Next week will be one of great importance for the hopeful “Ace” of San Diego’s 2013 starting staff. According to Corey Brock, Cory Luebke will begin his strength program which marks the beginning of his return from Tommy John surgery earlier in the season. It was a shame that Luebke went down so early in the year (April), because he had really thrown some strong outings before he sustained his elbow injury. In five 2012 starts, Luebke went 3-1, put up a 2.61 ERA, Struck Out 23, and appeared to be rolling off of his solid finish to the 2011 season. According to Brock, Luebke will likely miss a chunk out of the first half of the regular season in 2013, and his absence will definitely be missed. But for right now, let us cross our fingers that the Friar lefty can get through his rehab program and find his way back sooner as opposed to later. But most importantly, find his way back to the rotation healthy in 2013.
I am as ecstatic as ever to see how the starting rotation forms by the end of Spring Training next season. With Volquez and Richard already there, a combination of Stauffer, Cashner, Bass, Wieland, and hopefully Luebke, and hopefully Kelly and Erlin ready to compete, the Padres would have a tremendous amount of options at their disposal and hungry for playing time. This should be a nice mix of young and old, veteran and inexperienced, and the overall talented pool of starters will be one of the most important cogs in this franchise’s push towards an above .500 record and a postseason berth come 2013 and 2014.
The key of course in all of this blissful optimism will be the collective health of the staff as a whole. Hopefully the situation never again arises for so many frequent trips to signing veteran Free Agents which have been out of baseball for extended periods of time, and the new day has dawned where the team can use less than 14 starters in half of a season. So for now, let us as Friars fans cheer on our favorite team and await the speedy recovery of some of the team’s most important players on the team’s most important unit.
Statistics Courtesy of: Baseball Reference