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The Padres recently acquired Patrick Schuster from the D-Backs via the Rule 5 draft with help from the Astros. Schuster is the only left handed pitcher that the Padres have added to the roster this off season. Going into the off season, the need for a LOOGY (left-handed only one out guy) was one of the main needs that GM Josh Byrnes made a note of. Schuster had never pitched above Hi-A ball. His numbers last season were very good though, 1.83 ERA, 1.083 WHIP, 45 K’s, 18 BB’s in 44.1 IP. Could he be ready for the big leagues? Possibly. Could the Padres still be looking for another LOOGY to compete with him this Spring? Definitely. Here are some options that Byrnes and Company could be looking into.
In House Options
Eric Stults – It would probably be unprecedented for a pitcher who started 33 games last season to be moved into the lefty specialist slot but, it is a possibility. Stults doesn’t appear to be in the mix for the fifth starter job, most likely because of his age (34) and his lack of strikeouts. You would like a few more K’s against lefties from your LOOGY (5.00 K/9) but the .185 BA is pretty appealing. Of course, this point could be moot if Stults were to either win the fifth starter job or stick in the bullpen as the long reliever.
Chris Rearick – Rearick actually pitched at a higher level last season than Schuster has ever seen with San Antonio (AA). He had very similar numbers to the Rule 5 Pick with a 1.89 ERA, 1.079 WHIP, 42 K’s, 10 BB’s in 38 IP. If you’re going to give Schuster a shot, there is no way that you don’t give Rearick a shot also.
Juan Oramas – Oramas is a great left-handed pitching prospect. You may not want to convert him to a reliever at this point but, it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. Hall of Famer Earl Weaver believed in always allowing prospects to get their feet wet in the bullpen before moving into the rotation. Who am I to argue with Earl Weaver? Last season in AA, Oramas put up an impressive 3.07 ERA, 1.222 WHIP, 64 K’s, 16 BB’s in 55.2 IP.
Major League Free Agents
Mike Gonzalez – I have to believe that with the money that the Padres have shelled out this offseason, they are not looking to sign any one else. That’s not to say that the team wouldn’t be happy to sign a LOOGY with Major League experience to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training. Gonzalez’s numbers were decent last year while being used as the number one reliever for the Brewers. Kyle Lobner over at Brew Crew Ball doesn’t agree with the Brewers tendency to use Gonzalez over other relievers. Gozalez may be better as a LOOGY though, how much better remains to be seem. Although he strikes out more left handed batters, his ERA against lefties and righties is almost identical.
Eric O’Flaherty – O’Flaherty has amazing stats in general, not just against lefties. He is an option but, with several other teams said to be pursuing him, chances are he won’t be signing a minor league deal. The Nationals and Braves are said to both be pursuing the 28-year-old lefty who put up a 2.50 ERA, 0.944 WHIP, 11 K’s, 5 BB’s in 18 IP last season. The Padres’ only chance may be that O’Flaherty is coming off of injury but, no need to get our hopes up.
Oliver Perez – Perez pitched in 61 games last season for the Mariners with a 3.74 ERA, 1.434 WHIP, 74 K’s, 26 BB’s in 53 IP. He is not a very good LOOGY candidate, however. His numbers against lefties really aren’t that much better than his stats against righties. Perhaps this is why the Padres apparently have stopped pursuing him.
Minor League Free Agent
Zach Phillips – Phillips has had a few cups of coffee in the big leagues but is coming off a full year with AAA New Orleans in the Pacific Coast League. With the Marlins AAA affiliate, Phillips posted a 2.44 ERA, 1.237 WHIP, 74 K’s, 24 BB’s in 59 IP. His numbers definitely warrant a shot in Spring Training.
In all honesty I intended to add more minor league free agents, there just really seems to be a lack of decent prospects. Someone like Mark Hendrickson or Dontrelle Willis could be given a shot based on name alone. There is also the chance that the Padres have had a look at someone in one of the Winter Leagues that they may trade for prior to the Spring. Something will definitely be done in order to bring in competition for Patrick Schuster.
Who would you like to see the Padres bring in for a shot at the LOOGY spot?