This article is dedicated to Thomas L. Webber who wrote a comment in my article on what the Padres lineup would be if the season started today. He wrote: “Nice read Keegan, BUT where is the analysis of our Starting Pitchers and our Bull Pen??” First off, Mr. Webber, thank you for the compliment. As to your question, here is what the Padres rotation would be if the season were to start today.
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Let us start with the obvious. The top three of Tyson Ross, James Shields, and Andrew Cashner. While it seems that General Manager A.J. Preller would be keen on trading one of those three if not more, this is an article revolving around the roster today. Note that Ross is the number one name in the trio. In Ross’s 196 innings, he pitched to the tune of a 3.26 ERA and 2.98 FIP (fielding independent pitching ERA estimate) accompanied by a 3.1 WAR. Shields had a 3.91 ERA, 4.45 FIP, and a 1.9 WAR in his 202.1 innings. Granted, Manager Andy Green will likely throw Shields for Opening Day. Given that he appears to be the leader of the staff, this article will write his name for the Opening Day lineup card. Shields number one; Ross second.
Cashner had a disappointing 2015. Really disappointing. He pitched a career-high 184.2 innings. But, despite a world of talent, a lively arm, and a low degree of walks for a power pitcher, Cashner logged an ERA of 4.34. His defense let him down, which is reflected in his 3.85 FIP. But he surrendered 22 unearned runs. As terrible as the Padre defense was behind him, after a certain point, there is no excuse. The pitcher, too, is responsible. His rates for hits per nine, home runs per nine, walks per nine, and strikeouts per nine all went up in 2015 as compared to 2013 and 2014. My guess is that his lack of run support combined with some struggles and poor defense got into his head in 2015. If Cashner stays healthy, he is poised to have a bounce-back 2016. He is tabbed for number three.
Next: Brandon Maurer