Padres News: Morrow And Despaigne In Lead For Starting Spot

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Heading into March, the San Diego Padres have four of their five starting pitching positions locked for the 2015 season. As spring training begins, the race for the final fifth starting spot is heating up.

The Padres starting rotation going into the 2015 season, as it is currently projected, includes: James Shields, Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, and Ian Kennedy.

Battling for the fifth position are pitchers Brandon Morrow, Odrisamer Despaigne, Robbie Erlin, and Matt Wisler.

On Thursday, manager Bud Black said that Morrow and Despaigne were “maybe out there a touch” in terms of being in the lead.

Late last season, when Despaigne came in for the injured Cashner, he immediately gained a lot of attention with his 90+ mph fastball. In his first four starts in the majors he posted just a 1.35 ERA. Despaigne finished the remainder of the 2014 season with a 3.36 ERA and 1.215 WHIP. Despaigne showed a lot of potential and I hope that he is the one that comes out the victor in this race.

Despaigne has only started 16 games in the big leagues, which I think could be his disadvantage in winner the starting spot. Morrow is an eight year vet and has a lot more games and innings under his belt than the rest of the competing starters. I can see Buddy giving Morrow first crack at starting, mostly because Buddy and pitching coach, Darren Balsley, have a pretty good track record of getting the best out of old arms, like they did with Eric Stults.

The biggest knock on Morrow, is that he has had injury concerns the last couple of seasons. If Black can turn back the wheels of time a couple of years on Morrow and get him back to his 2012 self (2.96 ERA, 1.115 WHIP), then sure, give him the fifth spot. I just think Morrow could be better utilized in a bullpen or closer position, which would cut down on the wear and tear in his arm.

I predict that Erlin will get a chance to start this season at some point. Most likely one of our starters will need a couple of weeks off (Cashner) and he’ll get the call. I’m liking Robbie Erlin, from what I’ve seen so far. I don’t expect him to start right away, but next season I think he will be in serious competition for a starting spot.

Wisler remains our top pitching prospect, so he may need another season in the minors before he’s ready to get serious looks as a starter. If A.J. Preller doesn’t trade him away, I can see Wisler getting called up this September. I don’t see Wisler making the jump to a starting spot after Spring Training this year at all.

Either way, for manager Buddy Black, having a surplus of good starting pitchers to decide between is a problem I’m sure he is glad to have.

What do you guys think, who should get that fifth starting spot?

Stay tuned to Friars On Base for all updates on the San Diego Padres as Spring Training 2015 kicks off.

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