Padres: What will the rotation look like in three years?

Predicting the San Diego Padres rotation for the 2023 season.

Looking back at the 2017 season, the Padres rotation already looks vastly different than it does today. If you recall, Jhoulys Chacin led the way with a 13-10 record while posting a 3.89 ERA in 32 starts for the Friars. With regards to the rest of the rotation, it looked something like this:

  1. Chacin
  2. Clayton Richard: 32 starts, 4.79 ERA, 197.1 IP, 151 K, 1.52 WHIP
  3. Luis Perdomo: 29 starts, 4.67 ERA, 163.2 IP, 118 K, 1.51 WHIP
  4. Dinelson Lamet: 21 starts, 4.57 ERA, 114.1 IP, 54 K, 1.24 WHIP
  5. Trevor Cahill: 11 starts, 3.69 ERA, 61.0 IP, 24 K, 1.34 WHIP

Both Cahill and Travis Wood made 11 starts, but Cahill logged more innings.

And while the Padres figure to have one of the better rotations in the National League this year, three years from now, things could look dramatically different. Given how deep the position is, there is an infinite number of ways that the rotation could shake out, and that doesn’t factor in additions via free agency, trades, or injuries.

So, jumping ahead to 2023 – when Rob Manfred and the MLBPA have exchanged their 1,000th return-to-play proposal – the Padres rotation figures to include the following names.

1. MacKenzie Gore

The Padres number three overall pick of the 2017 MLB Draft and the game’s top pitching prospect. MacKenzie Gore will likely make his Major League debut this year, after cruising through the minor leagues, posting a 2.56 ERA in 43 career starts. Speaking of, with no lower-level seasons, it doesn’t make any sense for Gore to spend any more time in the minors.

2. Chris Paddack

Acquired from the Miami Marlins in June 2016, Paddack made 26 starts for the Padres while posting a 3.33 ERA. In his rookie campaign, he fanned 153 over 140.2 innings, all while being held to an innings limit. The reins are off Paddack in 2020, who is expected to be the Padres’ ace. Paddack could end up being the number one starter in 2023, with Gore sliding into the two-spot. Either way, I think that speaks volumes about how deep the front-end of the rotation is going to be.

3. Luis Patino

General Manager AJ Preller was proactive in adding pitching talent early in his tenure, adding Patino via the international free agent market in July 2016. And he’s quietly becoming one of the best pitching prospects in the game. MLB Pipeline tabbed him as the 27th best prospect in baseball after posting a 2.57 ERA in 19 starts between High-A Lake Elsinore and Double-A Amarillo in 2019. It’ll be interesting to see if the Padres utilize him in any fashion this year with expanded rosters. If not, he’s most likely going to resume his development at Double-A in 2021 with the expectation of making his Major League debut in 2022.

4. Dinelson Lamet

Lamet will be the only one from the 2017 starting rotation in three years. Still, just 27-years-old, Lamet worked his way back from Tommy John surgery and is considered to be a dark horse for the Cy Young Award. His elite spin rate on his secondary pitches makes him a big-time strikeout guy, as displayed last year when he fanned 105 batters in just 73.0 innings.

5. Cole Wilcox

The fifth starter could go a number of ways. Right now, I have Cole Wilcox taking the job. The team’s third-round pick in this year’s draft has first-round talent and assuming that he signs with the Padres, he could be the biggest steal of the draft.

What about the rest?

I had a difficult time finalizing the fifth starter here. Obviously, injuries and/or trades would provide some clarity to the situation. However, the Padres will still have Cal Quantrill, Joey Lucchesi, Michel Baez, and Adrian Morejon under contract through at least the 2023 season. However, what is likely to happen is that the Padres will trade a couple of starters for help elsewhere on the roster with the other two guys moving into the bullpen.

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