For the first time in several years, the San Diego Padres rotation is strong, and manager Jayce Tingler didn’t close the door on an expanded rotation.
Six-man rotations are not common across Major League Baseball, with less than a handful of teams implementing the unique strategy each year. And typically, it’s either because that team doesn’t have a true number one starter or there are multiple injuries within the rotation, so the extra off day is meant to provide another day of rest for everyone. The San Diego Padres appear to be set with a traditional five-man rotation in 2020, but manager Jayce Tingler didn’t close the door on expanding his rotation.
"“Right now we’re thinking five,” Tingler told MLB.com. “We have some built-in off-days early. But things change. We have no roadmap or clear plan to [change], but you have to have flexibility. Things come up. There may be pitchers that surprise us, that pop, that have taken significant steps forward. We just want to be open-minded to see those things.”"
Chris Paddack, Garrett Richards, and Dinelson Lamet are all but locks in the rotation, but after that, the competition will need to be tracked throughout Spring Training. Zach Davies and Joey Lucchesi have a loose grasp on the final two spots in the rotation, but there are several other candidates who could easily take their place.
Cal Quantrill‘s role in 2020 remains a bit unclear after a disastrous September, posting a 10.40 ERA in four starts. He was exceptional in July, posting a 1.69 ERA in three starts and an appearance out of the bullpen. Both he and Lucchesi figure to be strong candidates for the fifth starter in the rotation.
However, Michel Baez, Adrian Morejon, and potentially both MacKenzie Gore and Luis Patino could have a say in the matter. And I believe that’s exactly what Tingler is referring to in the quote above. It would be unique for the Padres to carry a six-man rotation for the entire season, and I don’t expect that they will go down that road.
But with very little room for additions and several guys knocking on the door, General Manager AJ Preller’s hand may be forced to move one (or two) of them in a trade to acquire other assets. We’ll keep an eye on the pitching battle in Spring Training, and every inning, every pitch may matter for those involved.