San Diego Padres Spring Training Notebook Day 2: The 5th Starter

SAN DIEGO, CA - AUGUST 18: Luis Perdomo
SAN DIEGO, CA - AUGUST 18: Luis Perdomo /

Welcome to day two of San Diego Padres spring training! Manager Andy Green provided some insight into the starting rotation yesterday. Let’s dive a little deeper into that and make a few guesses about what to expect.

Our Day Two journey through San Diego Padres spring training will look at the starting rotation. Manager Andy Green addressed the media yesterday as pitchers and catchers arrived and had a few things to say about his starting pitchers.

Green stated that Clayton Richard and Bryan Mitchell are virtual locks for the rotation. There is a good chance that Richard is the Opening Day starter, while Mitchell acquired to be a starting pitcher for the Padres. He will get his shot immediately.

Luis Perdomo and Dinelson Lamet have a “leg-up” on the rest of the competition. Both showed a lot of promise for San Diego last year. Perdomo finished at 8-11 with a 4.67 ERA. He finished second in Major League Baseball with a 61.8% ground ball percentage. With an improved defense behind him, the rest of his numbers should increase.

Lamet produced a big strikeout rate, 10.94/9 innings, but gave up 1.42 home runs/9 innings. The 25-year-old has emerged as a favorite among a lot of fans. Dan Szymborski of ESPN and creator of the ZiPS projections, believes that Lamet could become the ace of the staff, finishing with a near 4.0 WAR in 2018.

Who will be the fifth starter for the San Diego Padres?

If all goes accordingly, that leaves just one question remaining for Andy Green and his staff: who is the fifth and final starter?

The list of potential candidates includes: Tyson Ross, Chris Young, Jordan Lyles, Robbie Erlin, Colin Rea, and Matt Strahm. As mentioned yesterday, Erlin, Rea, and Strahm are all on a “starters progression,” according to Green.

However, it appears that the manager has been impressed with non-roster invitee, Tyson Ross. Here’s what Green said to The Athletic’s Dennis Lin,

Ross is reunited with pitching coach Darren Balsley who has already guided Ross to a successful return once. While last year did not go as planned for Ross as he attempted to return to form with the Texas Rangers (3-3, 7.71 ERA, 36/37 K/BB ratio, sub-90 mph fastball), it appears that the Padres will give him every chance he deserves.

Tyson Ross would be a “feel-good” story, but that doesn’t win ball games. Look for Matt Strahm to win the final spot in the rotation.

Strahm is a high ceiling guy who was once the second-ranked prospect in the Kansas City Royals’ system. He’s posted an enormous strikeout rate as he worked through the Royals’ farm, and found some success during his first major league call-up in 2016. He pitched 22 innings in relief for the Royals, giving up just three runs and 13 hits.

Last season, Strahm appeared in 24 games (three starts), posting a 5.45 ERA and a 37/22 K/BB ratio. A torn patellar tendon in July ended his season early. Despite the injury, San Diego took a flyer on him, hoping he can reach his ceiling now that he’s healthy.

Rounding out the rest of spring training news.

According to Andy Green, the Padres will also be looking to add a catcher and/or a shortstop from the list of free agents currently available. Green wants more competition for the current “wide-open” reserve spots on the team.

The catcher position was immediately addressed, as reported by San Diego Union-Tribune beat writer Kevin Acee,

Next: Our exclusive interview with RHP Matt Strahm

Ellis, 36, played in just 51 games last season with the Miami Marlins. The deal is a minor league contract with an invitation to spring camp. Ellis will now compete with Rocky Gale, Raffy Lopez, Austin Allen, Stephen McGee, and Luis Torrens for the backup catcher position.

As far as the shortstop position, may I suggest someone? J.J. Hardy, perhaps?