Padres News: Who Will Win The #5 Spot In The Rotation?

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The San Diego Padres rotation will surely rank as one of the best in the National League, if not all of baseball. James Shields solidifies a staff that was very respectable last season. Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy are all locks as the top four pitchers, but who will earn that last spot in the rotation?

Brandon Morrow, Odrisamer Despaigne and Robbie Erlin are the favorites for the remaining spot, but Matt Wisler and Casey Kelly also have an outside chance. Josh Johnson and Cory Luebke are also listed as starters, but are both recovering from major arm issues. Each will most likely be brought along slowly, in order to assure their health. Johnson will not be ready till June or July. Luebke is said to be ready for spring training. 

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The best stuff out of the remaining options is easily Brandon Morrow. He can be flat out filthy when he is on. Health is a major concern for him though. Morrow only managed to start six games last season, in posting a 1-3 record with a 5.67 ERA and 1.650 WHIP. He had finger surgery last May and is expected to be fully healthy coming into this 2015 season. Morrow will probably earn the spot, if he can show he is healthy. Also he will need to throw more strikes and working with Darren Balsley can only help him.

Odrisamer Despaigne has to be the fan favorite for the last spot in the rotation. He showed last year that his experience in the Cuba, translated well to the Major Leagues. You can’t teach the toughness he displayed while toeing the rubber for the Padres last season. He nearly threw the first no-hitter in the franchise’s history. Coming within only four outs last July against the New York Mets. In 16 games started last season, he was 4-7 with a 3.36 ERA and a 1.215 WHIP. He most surely was victimized by the Padres’ lack of offense and his win totals should obviously been higher.

Robbie Erlin throws from the left side and that puts him as a possibility for the #5 spot. Being that the locked top four starters all throw from the right side. At 24 years of age, he has youth on his side, but ultimately that youth, and availability of minor league options might be his downfall. He was solid last season, but certainly not spectacular in going 4-5 with a 4.99 ERA in 61 innings. It is possible he works out of the bullpen, as another quality lefty can surely be useful when it comes to the marathon of a Major League season. Spring Training and how he performs during Cactus League games will dictate where he plays in 2015.

Matt Wisler and Casey Kelly both have an outside chance at cracking the rotation. Realistically it would take an injury or absolutely dominant spring for either to get that opportunity. The line to possibly start for the Padres is long, and that is a nice problem to have. Pitching depth is an important resource to have. Wisler is the Padres #3 prospect and #53 prospect in all of baseball according to Baseball Prospectus. He didn’t dominant last season, but his major league fastball dictates he is a solid prospect. More seasoning will most likely be needed in his case.

Kelly was acquired with Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes from the Boston Red Sox for Adrian Gonzalez in December of 2010. He underwent Tommy John surgery in late 2012 and suffered elbow discomfort last season that derailed his whole season. He has always been hyped as a mid rotation type starter and at the age of 25 he most certainly still can live up to those expectations. He has six games started in the Majors under his belt. Throwing 29 innings and earning two Major League wins in 2012 for the Padres. Health will be a key factor for him as well.

To have depth like the Padres have in the starting rotation is remarkable. With AJ Preller around anything can happen. This rotation as we look at it, could easily be tweaked. Preller might view the depth as a great bargaining chip in a potential deal or he might just  stick with what the Padres presently have. One thing is for certain, anything can happen.

Next: Yoan Moncada Decision Expected Soon

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