It has been no secret that San Diego’s brass have tried hard to bolster their Starting Staff this offseason. Much to our dismay as Friars fans though, the Padres have been unable to bring in any big Free Agent names over the last two months, and could likely have up to two spots in the Starting Rotation up for grabs once Spring Training starts. Yet as frustrating as it has been to watch G.M. Josh Byrnes and his staff try to no avail in their attempts to sign and acquire more Starting Pitching help, I did read a bit of positive news over the weekend.
According to a recent Tweet (12/19/2012) from Padres.com Beat Writer Corey Brock, Starter Corey Luebke has been playing catch (70 feet, 3 times per week) and is gearing himself up for a Summer return with the Friars. Although Luebke is not scheduled to be back until the Summer to help the Friars this is a piece of information which is somewhat comforting to those of us worrying about the state of the Padres’ Starting Staff. Luebke, as we all remember had Tommy John elbow surgery back in May, was on his way to solidifying himself as the Friars’ most effective and possibly #1 Starter through the first month of the 2012 campaign.
Luebke appeared set to build off of his developmental 2011 season (6-10, 46 Games, 17 Starts, 3.29 ERA, 139.2 IP, 154 K’s) during his first five starts with San Diego last year. Overall, Cory went 3-1 over 31.0 Innings, posted an impressive 2.61 ERA, and rang up a 23 to 8 Strikeout to Walk ratio as he was on the verge of becoming the Friars’ most consistent starter. Unfortunately, the elbow injury happened and it wiped out what could have been a career year for the Left-Hander. How much Luebke or Joe Wieland (also coming off of Tommy John surgery) will ultimately be able to contribute in 2013 is a mystery at this point. Yet with promising news such as Cory and his rehab surfacing, the Padres might very well be able to give him (or even Wieland) some quality Innings as the year winds down and help them gear up for a nice return to form in 2014.
So as distressing as it has been to read about how Free Agents have spurned the Padres’ contract advances, I for one am happy to hear that Luebke is hopefully set for a Summer return. Because if there is one thing that the Padres will likely need at that point during the season, it will be Starting Pitching help.
Stats Courtesy of: Baseball Reference