Padres Editorial: Will Petco Success Earn a Rotation Spot for Odrisamer Despaigne?

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The Padres are likely not finished with their starting rotation. They are still very much in the hunt for James Shields and Cole Hamels (at least as of this writing), and with A.J. Preller’s ability to work magic on the trade market, virtually every pitcher in baseball is still in play. But even if the Padres sign Shields, or trade Andrew Cashner for Hamels, the back of the rotation is still up for grabs. And one of the top candidates has to be last year’s surprising rookie, Odrisamer Despaigne.

Despaigne broke onto the major league scene in a big way last June, announcing his presence with authority in a seven inning, four-hit, scoreless debut. In his fifth start, he nearly did something that no Padre has even done, coming within four outs of throwing the first no-hitter in franchise history. He book-ended his first season with another seven innings of shutout ball, this time allowing only two hits.

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Not every start in between was a gem. In three of Despaigne’s 16 starts, he allowed six earned runs. He ended up with a losing record, finishing the season at 4-7. But these were the woefully incompetent 2014 Padres, the team that couldn’t score four runs if a masked gunmen were holding a gun to the head of our chubby Friar mascot. Despaigne deserved better, allowing two or fewer earned runs 10 times, and finishing with an ERA of 3.36. On a team that could hit, the won-lost record might have looked a whole lot better.

Where Despaigne proved especially valuable was within the confines of Petco Park. The Cuban right-hander was nearly un-hittable at home, going 3-1 with a 1.83 ERA while holding hitters to a .188/.263/.253 slash line. He allowed a total of 12 runs in eight Petco starts.

Manager Bud Black talked about the work that the Padres will be doing with Despaigne in preparation for the upcoming season But it sounds like Black thinks Despaigne is pretty well prepared to continue his succees:

"I think we’re going to try to firm up the changeup, which is rare to add, and work on the consistency of his breaking pitch. There’s not a lot he needs to do other than understand fastball command and locate the ball."

h/t to Corey Brock of padres.mlb.com

Despaigne’s role on the team will be clarified starting in two weeks, when the team heads to Peoria for Spring Training. But by the time he celebrates his 28th birthday at FanFest on April 4, two days before the regular season starts, O.D. and the Padres will know where he fits on the 2014 team.

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