The San Diego Padres took a flyer on a few veteran starting pitchers last season and it appears they will do it again.
Before the 2018 season began, the San Diego Padres brought in veterans Tyson Ross and Chris Young to compete for starting rotation spots. They were both no-risk options that would either struggle in spring training and move along or make the active roster, contribute a few innings, and cost next to nothing. Are the Padres going to try this strategy again this offseason?
The Chris Young experiment didn’t work out so well for San Diego after Young opted out once he was told he wasn’t making the active roster. He was then hired by Major League Baseball to work in an executive role.
As for Tyson Ross, the 31-year-old pitcher made the starting rotation and was fairly successful to begin the year. Making 22 starts with the Padres, Ross went 6-9 with a 4.45 ERA, but struggled greatly over his final few starts. There was a lot of anticipation surrounding a potential trade of Ross to a playoff contender but that never came to fruition. Ross was released and claimed by the St. Louis Cardinals.
Experimental options for the San Diego Padres in 2019.
In his latest mailbag post on MLB.com, Padres beat writer AJ Cassavell briefly addressed this issue in response to a reader’s question.
"Over/under 1.5 starters signed by the Padres this offseason?— DerrickI’ll take the over. And the under.Over on the number of starting pitchers they sign; they’re going to bring a couple of experiments on board. And who knows, maybe one of them makes the club like Tyson Ross did last season.Under on the number of pitchers they sign who actually crack the Opening Day starting rotation. I’d guess they sign one rotation lock in free agency."
Cassavell doesn’t speculate on who those experiments could be, but let’s throw some names out there, for fun. We’re looking way down the list of upcoming free agents who could be signed at a minimal cost and try to find success again in spring training.
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The first name that jumps out is former Padre Drew Pomeranz. San Diego traded for him back in December of 2015, a few months later, he was shipped to the Boston Red Sox for Anderson Espinoza (which ultimately led to AJ Preller being suspended). After a breakout 2017 (17-6, 3.32 ERA), Pomeranz struggled this year, going 2-6 with a 6.08 ERA, 1.77 WHIP, and a 66/44 K/BB ratio across 74 innings (11 starts 15 relief appearances).
Mainly a fastball/curveball pitcher, Pomeranz seemed to lose the one thing he needs to make everything else work, his fastball. His average fastball velocity dropped from 91.3 mph to 89.2 mph and his average fastball location took a big shift towards the middle of the plate.
Are the makings there to bring Pomeranz in on a minimum deal and move him after he shows a little success? Of all the options on the market, if the Padres want to go down this route again, Pomeranz shows the most promise.
Some other names we could see include Miguel Gonzalez, Chris Tillman, and Francisco Liriano. Would any of these arms be able to contribute to the Padres rotation in 2019? Odds are low, but that’s the point of these spring training invites. If they fail miserably, there’s no harm, no foul and the rookies take the reigns!