With spring training just two weeks away, the San Diego Padres starting rotation looks to be fairly settled.
The fifth starter spot for the San Diego Padres should be the only position left that provides competition during the spring. Although the order of the starters will be settled as the games go on, the names are known.
Barring injury or surprises, March should mostly be devoid of drama with the starters getting ready for the season. It is most likely a battle between Joey Lucchesi and Cal Quantrill for the final spot, with most evaluators favoring Lucchesi.
I’m not sure that the two of them won’t surprise us this spring by having upped their games significantly during the offseason. Lucchesi said as much during the Padres Fanfest, alluding to a newly acquired third pitch that he will unveil this spring.
As a former first-round pick, Cal Quantrill possesses the talent to be a middle of the rotation starter but has not shown the consistency and stuff needed to hold that spot. Everyone should be ready to watch a real battle for that last spot in the rotation.
Assuming that the five spots are as we anticipate at this point, what can we expect from this rotation in 2020?
With no limits placed on his performance this season, Paddack could step up to be the ace the Padres wanted to acquire during this offseason.
Based on Bleacher Report’s definition and attributes of an ace, Chris Paddack can prove this season if he can measure up.
What does Paddack lack at this point?
He has the requisite fastball, 93 MPH or greater velocity, with a killer change-up and a developing curve. He needs to improve his curve into a more reliable and trusted offering.
Ace pitchers have a 64-70% strike percentage. Paddack’s was 69% last season.
They throw greater than 60% first pitch strikes, Paddack had a 75% first pitch strike rate through his dominant first half last season. Sports Illustrated featured a glowing profile of Paddack’s dominance in a May 2019 piece.
Aces dominate with three excellent pitches and have a nasty signature pitch. A dominant fastball and change-up fulfill this with just his curve needing significant improvement.
They exhibit consistency and durability, highlighted by their stopper ability and high innings count per season. Paddack has the opportunity this year to demonstrate those attributes.
Paddack’s bulldog mentality and intensity on the mound are marks of leadership as well as the willingness to be the ace the Padres want and need.
Checking in on 2020 projections from baseball fantasy sites gives a peak into what outsiders are expecting from Paddack this season. The average of the four sites I checked (Fantasypros.com, Rotochamp.com, Steamer, and ATC) project 162.6 innings, 11-9 record, 3.69 ERA and , 1.13 WHIP.
I will be very surprised if the innings pitched and record are accurate. I expect 180 innings and a much better W/L record, but I also expect the team to be much better than the 75-80 wins that many expect for this year.
Given health, a continued improvement with the curveball, and better support from his teammates, Chris Paddack can develop into the ace of the staff the Padres were hoping to acquire but were unable to do so.