Padres: And the final spot in the starting rotation goes to…

(Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images) /
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This is really a nice problem to have. With Mike Clevinger out for the year recovering from Tommy John surgery and Dinelson Lamet working his way back from injuries of his own, the San Diego Padres actually have three legitimate options to round out the starting rotation.

Most teams, simply put, aren’t in such a position. The loss of two critical arms would leave them relying on non-roster invitees, minor league signings or some combination of the two to get through the schedule.

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But the Padres aren’t most teams. The next three weeks will likely not only see Lamet continue to ramp up the intensity of his workouts and bullpen sessions, but a three-way battle for the final spot in the rotation between top prospects MacKenzie Gore and Ryan Weathers and Adrian Morejon.

While it’s sexier to have Weathers or Gore grab that spot, so far, neither has done what they need to do in order to lock down a spot in camp. Their stuff has been as good as advertised, but it hasn’t translated to shutdown innings in Cactus League action.

Morejon, meanwhile, hasn’t been on his game, either, despite a 2.00 ERA. He’s walked six in four innings of work. So, despite being the early front-runner, it’s far from a sure thing the Padres will tap him to round out the rotation if they need to fill a couple weeks without Lamet to open the regular season next month.

Padres looking to Adrian Morejon to seize this opportunity

San Diego has been focused on lengthening Morejon in hopes of him filling either a spot in the rotation or occupying a long relief/swingman role out of the pen this year. Last season, the left-hander made four starts and came out of the pen five times for the Friars.

Morejon boasts an overpowering fastball and, in 2020, he did a good job at limiting hard contact in his small taste of big league action. It’s still early enough in the spring that there’s hope he can get things ironed out because, in an ideal world, you can allow Gore and Weathers to finish developing to open the season.

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After all, Gore has never thrown an inning at the Triple-A level and Weathers hasn’t even spent a year at Double-A, despite being included on the Padres’ postseason roster last fall. This is probably the biggest battle in camp this spring – and will definitely be one we check back in on in the weeks to come.