This continues a series about finding the positives within a 2015 season that did not live up to high expectations. I’ve already looked at the infield, the outfield, and now moving on to the starting pitching. The Padres went into last off-season thinking that their starting pitching would be a surplus, and that was before they added James Shields from the 2014 American League Champion Kansas City Royals. Things did not go quite as planned.
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James Shields ended up leading the league in home runs allowed, and the supposed depth of the fifth starter battle never really materialized. Odrisamer Despaigne battled Brandon Morrow all spring before Morrow won the job. Except that after 5 starts it was not an issue as he ended up missing the rest of the season. Despaigne filled in nicely for Ian Kennedy, then Morrow for a spell before Colin Rea replaced him in the rotation. Let’s take a look at a few positives from the season and see how the Padres can turn the negative experience of 2015 into a 2016 playoff run:
1) Health. James Shields made his 200 innings and 33 starts. Tyson Ross made 33 starts and 196 IP, both career highs. Andrew Cashner also made it to a career high in IP and starts, while Ian Kennedy rounded out the top four starters with 30 starts as well.
2) Tyson Ross. While the jump in ERA to 3.26 from 2.81 is not inspiring, the career high in strike-outs, IP, and games started as noticed above. While the jump in walks was alarming (84 from 72 in 2014), he was one Padres starter who could keep the ball in the park. He only allowed 9 home runs while Shields led the team with 33 home runs allowed. Next season really might be the year Ross co-leads this staff or maybe even takes over the ace card.
3) Colin Rea. In the six starts he made for the Padres, he showed hope that he would be able to hold down a rotation spot for the Padres next season. With Ian Kennedy likely leaving for greener pastures the Padres need someone from within to step up and hold down at least one rotation spot. Whether it be Rea, Casey Kelly, or Robbie Erlin, the Padres will have another long season without quality starting pitching.