We make the case for San Diego Padres starting pitcher Chris Paddack winning the Cy Young award during the 2020 baseball season.
With the young pitching talent the Padres have coming up, it feels like they’re on the brink of competing for Cy Young awards again.
And there hasn’t been a pitcher since then put up a 5 WAR or better season for the Padres.
That could all change in 2020 during Chris Paddack‘s sophomore season.
In 2019, Paddack put himself on the map with a great start to his rookie season. One that would have put him in the race for the NL Rookie of the Year award almost any other season.
Through the first 100 innings of his Major League career he posted an ERA of 2.78 with 104 strikeouts and a BAA of .184.
His FIP of 3.92 and BABIP of .208 over that stretch shows that he was a little lucky, but that’s still very good for a 23-year-old rookie.
It was obvious he wore down in his first big league season posting a 4.69 ERA in his final 40 innings of 2019. That BABIP went up to .305 during that stretch to even things out a bit.
In the end he posted a 3.33 ERA (3.95 FIP) with 153 strikeouts in 140.2 innings and a WAR of 2.4.
His ZiPS projections for 2020 have him posting a 3.68 ERA in 159 innings with 174 strikeouts and a WAR of 2.6.
It also compares him to Mike Mussina who is a Hall of Famer and finished in the top five of the AL Cy Young voting six times.
Obviously much different times then, but Mussina posted a 5.3 WAR season in his second year in the big leagues. But he also threw 241 innings, which isn’t happening with Paddack.
Like many of you, I love the bulldog mentality of Paddack and think he will come back even hungrier in 2020 — as you can see from these photos.
The kid gloves will be taken off of him and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him throw close to 200 innings.
Let’s assume for a minute that Paddack throws 200 innings, strikeouts 220 batters, wins 16 games, and finishes with an ERA around 3.25.
Does anybody think that’s too outrageous of a prediction?
That’s pretty much what Walker Buehler did last season and he finished with exactly 5 WAR and was ninth in the NL Cy Young vote.
Maybe he doesn’t win it with those numbers, but it certainly puts him in the conversation. His fastball and change-up are already elite enough to work through a Major League lineup multiple times.
If he can continue to develop his curveball, or perhaps even another pitch, we could see him skyrocket into the elite category.
But mostly I’m banking on the work ethic and attitude of Paddack to come back in 2020 ready to take that next step forward and prove he’s a top of the rotation pitcher.