When the offseason began, the Padres’ Starting Rotation had more questions than answers surrounding it. San Diego’s brass however mostly “stood pat” over the Winter as they largely failed to acquire a significant amount of Starting Pitching help. With only Tyson Ross, Tim Stauffer, and Freddy Garcia added to the mix, one could certainly argue that the Friars’ Starting Rotation still remains their “biggest question” as they begin Spring Training this week.
Hopefully Cashner can return healthy sooner than expected. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Luckily for San Diego’s brass and the Starting Staff as a whole, their young and promising Starters in the forms of Cory Luebke and Joe Wieland are making progress after both underwent elbow surgery last year.
But not only have the rehab. periods for Luebke and Wieland been going well, injured flame-thrower Andrew Cashner is also on schedule to return to the team sooner than expected from his injury. According to a recent Tweet from Padres.com Beat Writer Corey Brock:
"Sounds like Andrew Cashner could be on a mound by March 1. He’s ahead of schedule a bit from lacerated thumb tendon. #Padres"
Cashner as we all know sustained his thumb injury in a bizarre meat dressing accident which left the Right-Handed pitcher with a severed tendon in his pitching hand in December. Not only will the flame-throwing Cashner be able to return to the team somewhat sooner than expected, but the Padres will be able to welcome another potential contributor to the Starting Rotation sooner as opposed to later this year.
Last year, Cashner was actually the team’s Setup Man for the first two months of the season. Yet after injuries had forced the Padres to scramble for replacements for the injured Wieland, Stauffer, Luebke, and Dustin Moseley, Cashner was enlisted to help the team as a Starter when June began. After a solid start against the Astros after a stint in the Minors, Cashner unfortunately injured his right lat muscle in early July against the Diamondbacks. This injury in turn only allowed him to pitch in 3 games total over the rest of the season. Although Cashner’s 2012 stat line of a 3-4 record with a 4.27 ERA in 33 Games is nothing to scoff at, I am sure the Padres were looking for a bit more production from the player they acquired in exchange for First Base prospect Anthony Rizzo.
Thankfully, it appears that Cashner could be ready to contribute and add himself and his rocket-arm to the currently murky Starting Rotation situation on the Padres’ hands. And hey, if better options exist for the Padres to use instead of Cashner in their “Starting Five,” then that should not be an issue at all. If and when the Right-Hander returns healthy and is not used as a Starter, he can always assume a role back in the Bullpen and chip in with the Setup and 7th Inning duties where he gained experience last year.
Overall, the more potential help is available to the Padres in a pitching-sense, the better. Hopefully Cashner is able to make a speedy return, because the Friars might need him to log some significant Innings every fifth day. And even if the team does not need him in that capacity, Cashner would surely provide some terrific depth to San Diego’s Bullpen also.
Stats & Contract Information Courtesy of: Baseball Reference