I don’t know how many of you read The Athletic – but I can tell you this: it’s worthy every single penny every month.
I was reading Jayson Stark’s latest on the four big NL pitching moves that made a deep impact, knowing full well the Padres‘ offseason shopping spree had to be on the list and, sure enough, it was – clocking in at number two, trailing only the Dodgers’ signing of Trevor Bauer.
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He rightly points out that, at first glance and knowing the Padres posted the third-lowest team ERA in the sport last year, AJ Preller’s wheeling and dealing this winter might seem out of place. San Diego outpaced the eventual World Series champion Dodgers in several other critical areas on the pitching side of the equation, as well.
So why the massive overhaul of the starting rotation?
Come October, the Padres’ pitching staff imploded in chaotic fashion. Stark notes that in the postseason, San Diego arms were clobbered and finished with a 10.93 ERA while striking out only just over six batters per nine. That’s not going to get it done – and the front office knows that.
As bad as the Padres staff was, Los Angeles’ group of arms took it up a notch in the postseason. They compiled a 3.17 ERA and flirted with 13 punchouts per nine en route to the title. So what to take away from all this? San Diego not only knows it failed spectacularly on this front last year, but have learned from it and are hellbent on making sure it doesn’t happen again.
Padres have no intentions of failing in October again this fall
Last time around, the team was without a healthy Mike Clevinger or Dinelson Lamet when it mattered most. But in 2021, San Diego has the depth to overcome injuries and losses thanks to a whirlwind of moves that dominated the offseason.
Now, San Diego heads into camp this week with an impressive collection of pitchers. In the rotation, new faces Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove and Blake Snell look to anchor things, alongside Lamet and Chris Paddack. Adrian Morejon, Ryan Weathers and MacKenzie Gore are all anxiously awaiting their turn, too.
This weekend, the Padres brought in Mark Melancon, adding a groundball-focused veteran arm to the mix in the bullpen. With high-upside arms all around, San Diego has done everything in its power to address the shortcomings of the pitching staff last October so when they return to the game’s biggest stage this fall, it’ll be a very different story.