Candidates For the Padres Rotation

nicholaslee
Jun 23, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Diego Padres relief pitcher Brandon Maurer (37) throws a pitch against the San Francisco Giants during the ninth inning at AT&T Park. The San Diego Padres defeated the San Francisco Giants 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 23, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Diego Padres relief pitcher Brandon Maurer (37) throws a pitch against the San Francisco Giants during the ninth inning at AT&T Park. The San Diego Padres defeated the San Francisco Giants 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Padres have their top three starters all figured out in James Shields, Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner. They combined for 98 starts, 29 wins, 593 strikeouts and 583 innings in 2015. With the departures of Ian Kennedy Odrisamer Despaigne, the Padres have some holes to fill in the back end of the rotation.

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Who will be the Padres’ 4th and 5th starters when Spring Training turns to Opening Day? Here are some candidates to keep tabs on in the coming weeks.

Sep 3, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Colin Rea (29) pitches during the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 3, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Colin Rea (29) pitches during the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

Colin Rea 

There is already a great candidate in the young Colin Rea. He started six games for the Friars at the end of last season, going 2-2 with a 4.26 ERA. Those numbers might not be eye-popping but his last two starts were arguably the best of his short season. He pitched 7 shutout innings against the Rockies in his last start on September 8th. He is young at 25 and has plenty of upside. He could blossom given a full season at the major league level.

May 8, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Diego Padres pitcher Brandon Maurer against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. The Padres defeated the Diamondbacks 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
May 8, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Diego Padres pitcher Brandon Maurer against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. The Padres defeated the Diamondbacks 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Brandon Maurer 

There are reports that Maurer will be given every opportunity to win a spot in the rotation come April. He was one of the best relievers coming out of the bullpen last season. In 53 games, he had a 7-4 record and 3.00 ERA and only Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit had a better WHIP. He started out with the Mariners as a starter. In 2013, he started 14 games as a rookie and struggled to a 6.30 ERA and went 5-8. He embraced his chance in the ‘pen but now seems ready to get back in the saddle as a part of a major league starting rotation.

Sep 26, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Robbie Erlin (41) pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Robbie Erlin (41) pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

Robbie Erlin 

Erlin would be a welcome left-handed arm to the rotation. He has experience, already having started 23 games over the past three seasons with the Padres. He has a 4.60 career ERA. He has struggled with injuries but if he is 100%, the Padres would benefit from a southpaw. He didn’t appear in a game for the Padres in 2015 until he was a September call-up. He will be given a good look during spring.

May 2, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Brandon Morrow (21) pitches during the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
May 2, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Brandon Morrow (21) pitches during the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

Brandon Morrow 

Morrow has had a hard time staying healthy. He started just 5 games for the Padres last season before going down, never to return to the field in 2015. He was solid in that small sample size, going 2-0 with a 2.73 ERA. He has not pitched a full season in the big leagues since 2011. The Friars signed him to a minor league deal and he will have to prove himself. If he is 100% and comes into the spring strong, you got to think he has the inside track on one of the rotation spots.

Oct 10, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Carlos Villanueva (33) delivers a pitch during the fourth inning in game two of the NLDS against the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 10, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Carlos Villanueva (33) delivers a pitch during the fourth inning in game two of the NLDS against the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

Carlos Villanueva

Villanueva had a good 2015 with the St. Louis Cardinals. He went 4-3 with a 2.95 ERA in 35 games. However, he was not part of the rotation and came out of the bullpen. He has only started five games in the last two seasons. His splits between his bullpen and starting numbers are night and day, favoring coming in relief. He is 18-33 with a 5.00 ERA in 76 career starts. He is the most experienced pitcher on this list but he does not have a good track record as a starter. Being a veteran, he will be given a fair look for the rotation and if he does not make it, look for him to be the “spot-starter” in the bullpen.

Aug 14, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Drew Pomeranz (13) pitches during the thirteenth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Baltimore Orioles defeated Oakland Athletics 8-6 in the thirteenth inning. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 14, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Drew Pomeranz (13) pitches during the thirteenth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Baltimore Orioles defeated Oakland Athletics 8-6 in the thirteenth inning. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

Drew Pomeranz 

Pomeranz was acquired in the deal that sent Yonder Alonso and Marc Rzepczynski to the Athletics. Pomeranz has mainly been a reliever and spot-starter but has started 49 games in five seasons. He started nine last year and in those starts went 2-3 with a 4.63 ERA. Compare that to a 2.61 ERA in 44 relief appearances. Him in the rotation probably isn’t in “Plan A” but things could happen to where he finds himself in the rotation. Plus, being a lefty doesn’t hurt his chances either.

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My pick: Brandon Maurer and Carlos Villanueva

Colin Rea and Robbie Erlin are still young and developing. Erlin could be used as a long relief lefty. We still don’t know if Brandon Morrow is 100% healthy. Drew Pomeranz seems a better fit in the ‘pen. Maurer and Villanueva should put themselves in the front with solid spring performances.

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