Last week, Padres Beat Writer Corey Brock discussed how Starting Pitching could be an area that San Diego would look to upgrade this offseason. In it, Brock threw a couple of names out as possible targets for the Friars to woo, and would not necessarily be too high-priced. It is a solid read, and a nice introduction to what should be yet another long offseason.
After reading Brock’s piece however I got to thinking that some new acquisitions and the continued development of the younger arms in the high-levels of the Minor Leagues are not all this Friars team will need come 2013. In my opinion, whichever starters emerge from the pack to form San Diego’s 2013 rotation, two very important things will need to happen to ensure their success: continuity as a rotation, and the most crucial of all, continued health.
Continuity & Health Completely Missing From 2012
To say that the members of the Padres’ Starting Rotation were “beset by injuries” last season would not do what actually occurred over the last seven months any justice. For any team to use more than 10 different starting Pitchers is terrible enough over the course of a season, but the Padres were forced to use a total of 15 different starters over the course of 2012. Of last season’s Opening Day Starting Five, only Clayton Richard and Edinson Volquez were able to finish out the season with over 30 starts under their belts’. Veterans Tim Stauffer and Dustin Moseley both made only 1 start apiece, and the up-and-coming Cory Luebke was shelved with an elbow injury after only 5 starts.
Unfortunately for the Padres, the young starters they used to replace the veterans, Joe Wieland, Casey Kelly, Anthony Bass, and Andrew Cashner, had their own share of injury issues, and could not contribute as much as the team would have liked, or were only on the starting staff (Andrew Werner) for a short period. Moreover, the veterans that the Padres signed off the proverbial “scrap heap,” were either performing decently until they were injured (Jason Marquis) or ineffective (Ross Ohlendorf, Kip Wells, and Jeff Suppan), with the exception of Eric Stults, who even missed time due to an injury as well.
Between the injuries and constant changes in the rotation on what seemed like a bi-weekly basis, the Padres got off to a rocky start and did not seem to get back on track until it was too late in the season. Without any continuity, little consistency for much of the season, the rotation was in flux, and the team suffered because of it. Sure, the bats were essentially frozen until the Summer got underway, but when only two members of the Opening Day starting staff are the only one to make it through the entire season basically healthy, it was no wonder the Padres had so many issues.
What To Look Forward To
Entering next season, the Padres appear to have three starters as locks in regards to their 2013 rotation. Richard and Volquez were consistent in their efforts last season, and both led the team in almost every major starting pitching category (Starts, Wins, Innings Pitched, Strikeouts, etc..). Both Richard and Volquez are solid veteran options for any team to have in their rotation, and should figure in greatly to the Padres’ plans in 2013. In addition to Richard and Volquez, 2012 newcomer, and overall pleasant surprise Eric Stults will likely be given every chance available to win a job in the rotation next season. After his acquisition off of waivers last year, Stults came back strong from a lat injury to finish the season with an 8-3 record.
Outside of Richard, Volquez, and Stults, the Starting Pitching situation could get murky, and this will likely be the cause of the Front Office pursuing some off-season acquisitions over the coming months. Luebke and Wieland will likely both be sidelined for a significant amount of time due to their recoveries from elbow surgery. Stauffer and Moseley have had their share of injury issues in the past, and might not be tendered or even brought back next season. The field however will likely be open to likely four candidates already on the roster, Cashner, Bass, Werner, Kelly, along with whichever starters are brought in to compete for a spot in the rotation.
If this team had any sort of rotational stability during the first three months, it would have been interesting to see how many games they actually won. My hope is that 15 different starters are never used again in one season, because it is a recipe for disaster for any team with starting pitching issues like they had last season.
All we can do now however is wait, watch, and hope that any and all starters the team decides to ultimately keep and acquire can stay relatively healthy. This team is poised for another season of improvement in 2013, and it would be downright sickening to see it derailed by injuries again. Regardless of what happens though, monitoring the moves made by the Front Office surrounding the starting rotation will be interesting to keep up with over the offseason.
Stats Courtesy of: Baseball Reference