El Cajon, CA native Joe Musgrove made quite the first impression on Padres fans Friday.
The right-hander, who came over via trade from the Pirates this offseason, made his debut for his hometown team against the Giants, tossing a pair of perfect frames. He needed only 18 pitches to get through those two innings – a promising sign for the former first-round pick.
"“I was a little bit amped up out there,” Musgrove told MLB.com. “I was real excited to be back in a game. It’s been awhile, especially in the uniform and with a lot of adrenaline. I wasn’t as sharp as I could be but it was effective.”"
Musgrove could wind up being one of the most impactful, albeit quiet, additions of what might be the busiest offseason in San Diego Padres history. Any time you can bring in a quality ballplayer who just happened to grove up idolizing San Diego icon Jake Peavy – and then watch him don #44 while solidifying the rotation, it’s a win for everyone involved.
If you think this is just a feel-good story and nothing more, just keep reading. If that doesn’t suit you, at least go check out Musgrove’s Baseball Savant page. Needless to say, you’ll like what you see there.
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The righty ranked in the 93rd percentile in terms of hard hit rate last season, the top 11 percent in xSLG and the top 10 percent of all qualified pitchers in strikeout rate. He mixes a half-dozen pitches to keep hitters off-balance and could be a legitimate All-Star candidate in the middle of the Padres’ rotation.
Padres hoping Joe Musgrove can surprise
In 2018, Musgrove threw his curve just 2.2 percent of the time, but over the last two seasons has more fully integrated that pitch into his plan of attack, utilizing it 19.9 percent of the time in 2020 – making it his third-most used pitch behind his four-seamer and slider.
All of his pitches excel at transcending the vertical plane – and it keeps hitters’ eye levels moving constantly. Down the stretch for the Bucs last season, Musgrove made five September and October outings and dominated to the tune of a 2.16 ERA across 25 innings of work, striking out 38 and walking just five.
San Diego is hoping he was onto something as 2020 wound down. If he was – and it translates to his work on the mound this year, the addition of Musgrove could prove to be the steal of the offseason for AJ Preller and the Padres front office.