Even this early in the season, the San Diego Padres’ disabled list is beginning to look a lot like a hospital’s list of patients. As a result, players without any experience whatsoever are thrown directly into action.
No major league baseball team can expect to weather an entire season without injuries, both major and minor, but the Padres seem to add players to the disabled list with alarming regularity. The pitching staff, in particular, has been hard hit, leading the team to hold what amounts to tryouts in major league games.
Players on the disabled list include three starting pitchers Jered Weaver, Trevor Cahill and Jarred Cosart, who started out in the bullpen but had to take over when Cahill went down. This is Cosart’s second trip to the DL. The outfield has also been decimated with left fielder Alex Dickerson, center fielder Manuel Margot, and speedy fourth outfielder Travis Jankowski nursing various ailments.
On the positive side, this does allow an organization with no aspirations beyond amassing high draft picks to call up players, like Franchy Cordero and Jose Pirela, who otherwise might not have played at the major league level this year. Replacing outfielders has already proved to be an easier task than starting pitchers.
Unfortunately, injuries have extended to minor league pitchers like Walker Lockett. Not a highly rated prospect, Lockett still deserved a shot after moving up four levels from Single-A Fort Wayne to El Paso last year. This year he has a 5-2 record with a 4.39 ERA, considered respectable in the Pacific Coast League which has the reputation of being a hitter’s paradise.
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The 22-year-old Rule 5 pick has struggled with big-league hitting so far this season, compiling a 7.50 ERA, 1.54 WHIP and 18:13 K:BB through 24 innings of relief this season, so not much should be expected from him in his first major-league start. He hasn’t pitched more than three innings or 43 pitches in any outing this season, so he will likely have a fairly low pitch count Saturday.
Although the organization has few options, throwing this young, inexperienced guy into such a situation could completely backfire. If he is valued enough to be kept on the roster the entire season, isn’t the team taking a huge risk by exposing him to a humiliating beat down? If the team depends on drafting and developing players, doesn’t this shortcut eliminate vital developmental steps?
Surely there’s some journeyman pitcher out there somewhere the team could pick up to throw out there instead of sacrificing guys like Diaz.