Padres: Team must consider MacKenzie Gore for rotation

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

With lackluster contributions coming from Joey Lucchesi, the Padres need to consider a change in the starting rotation.

The fifth starter competition was one of the more intriguing position battles in spring training and the Padres summer camp. Joey Lucchesi made 30 starts for the team in 2019, posting a respectable 4.18 ERA, but he struggled to pitch beyond the fifth inning with a 7.98 ERA in the sixth inning.

And the 27-year-old lefty has not given the front office much of a reason to keep him in the rotation in the abbreviated season. In two starts, Lucchesi has yet to complete four innings, including a 1.2 inning effort on Saturday, eventually being replaced by Cal Quantrill in a 6-1 losing effort.

Lucchesi hasn’t looked sharp, struggling to locate his patented “Churve” pitch. Quantrill piggy-backed the lefty in both starts. While he provided enough of an effort to get the team to five innings last week, he, too, struggled on Saturday, tossing 4.1 innings and allowing three earned runs.

It raises the question of whether the Padres need to make a change or a callup in this case, with MacKenzie Gore being that guy. The 21-year-old is expected to contribute in some capacity this year, having been added to the 60-man player pool.

And why not now? His first start could come against the Dodgers next week, which would instantly be a good measure of how MLB ready he is. Under normal circumstances, Gore would have likely begun the year at Double-A Amarillo, which is where his 2019 campaign ended.

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If the Padres want to keep this momentum going, they cannot afford to have Lucchesi starting games anymore. He’s given the team more than enough sample size, and it’s not working out. It’ll be interesting to monitor general manager AJ Preller’s movement on the trade market, incoming and outgoing, within the next couple of weeks.