The 2014 Organizational Depth Chart – Starting Pitcher features 10 pitchers who will all see time on the mound with the big club. The first five, Cashner, Kennedy, Johnson, Ross, and Stults, are my picks for the Opening Day starting rotation. The remaining five, Smith, Erlin, Kelly, Wieland, and Wisler, are all poised for an opportunity to prove they can be a regular on the five-man rotation.
Most of the pitchers on the list are coming off great second halves in 2013. The potential for a strong starting rotation is real as long as the pitchers are healthy and execute their game plans.
#1 – Andrew Cashner (RHP, 2013 – MLB: 10-9 W-L, 3.09 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 128 SO, 47 BB, 2.72 SO/BB, 175 IP, 26 starts)
Cashner went 5-4 with a 2.14 ERA after the All-Star break in 2013. His complete game shutout of the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 16th was an example of how dominate he can be when he is locating his fastball, changeup, and slider.
If Cashner remains healthy and continues locating his pitches, he will provide the Padres with shutdown stuff each time he is on the mound.
#2- Ian Kennedy (RHP, 2013 – MLB: 7-10 W-L, 4.91 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 163 SO, 73 BB, 2.23 SO/BB, 181.1 IP, 31 starts)
Before Kennedy was traded from the Diamondbacks to the Padres on July 31st, he was 3-8 with a 5.23 ERA. With the Padres, Kennedy went 4-2 with a 4.24 ERA. Hopefully, the added confidence of playing in a pitcher-friendly ballpark will enable Kennedy to continue his success in 2014.
#3 – Josh Johnson (RHP, 2013 – MLB: 2-8 W-L, 6.20 ERA, 1.66 WHIP, 83 SO, 30 BB, 2.77 SO/BB, 81.1 IP, 16 starts)
Johnson had a terrible season with the Toronto Blue Jays. He was an All-Star in 2009 and 2010, but Johnson has not been the same since a right shoulder injury caused him to miss most of the 2011 season.
The two-time All-Star will have the opportunity to resurrect his career in 2014. He underwent a minor surgery on his right elbow in October, and if his arm is healthy, the Padres may have an ace in the three spot.
#4 – Tyson Ross (RHP, 2013 – MLB: 3-8 W-L, 3.17 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 119 SO, 44 BB, 2.70 SO/BB, 125 IP, 16 starts)
In 13 starts after the All-Star break, Ross went 3-4 with a 2.93 ERA. His record was nothing to brag about, but holding opponents to a .201 batting average was noteworthy.
Ross will be 27 in April, and the Padres are hoping he can successfully transition into a dependable starter in 2014.
#5 – Eric Stults (LHP, 2013 – MLB: 11-13 W-L, 3.93 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 131 SO, 40 BB, 3.28 SO/BB, 203.2 IP, 33 starts)
Stults was a bulldog in 2013. He gave the Padres a solid outing every fifth day, which was essential with all the injuries to the rotation. He will be challenged by the guys that follow him on the depth chart, but he deserves a spot on the Opening Day rotation because of his performance last season.
#6 – Burch Smith (RHP, 2013 – MLB: 1-3 W-L, 6.44 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, 46 SO, 21 BB, 2.19 SO/BB, 36.1 IP, 7 starts)
Smith’s 2013 numbers were inflated because of two starts in May in which he failed to pitch more than one inning. In contrast, Smith went 1-2 with a 3.80 ERA in four starts in September. In Triple-A, he went 5-1 with a 3.39 ERA in 12 starts.
#7 – Robbie Erlin (LHP, 2013 – MLB: 3-3 W-L, 4.12 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 40 SO, 15 BB, 2.67 SO/BB, 54.2 IP, 9 starts)
Erlin’s 2013 numbers were inflated by a couple poor relief appearances in April, and a bad start in July. However, his late-season call-up went very well. Erlin went 2-1 with a 1.97 ERA in five starts. In Triple-A, Erlin went 8-3 with a 5.07 ERA in 20 starts.
Erlin and Smith will be called up within the first couple months of the 2014 season.
Kelly and Wieland were both on the disabled list in 2013. They are both 24-years-old, and made their major league debuts in 2012. It is a complete mystery how they will perform in 2014. Hopefully, they are healthy enough to play to their potential.
#10 – Matt Wisler (RHP, 2013 – A+/AA: 10-6 W-L, 2.78 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 131 SO, 33 BB, 3.97 SO/BB, 136 IP, 26 starts)
Wisler will begin the 2014 season in Triple-A El Paso. He excelled at Single-A Fort Wayne in 2012, and continued his upward trajectory at High-A Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio in 2013.
If Wisler continues to progress at an impressive rate, the 21-year-old has a great chance at a late-season call-up.
Organizational Depth Chart Series: