Padres: Chris Paddack looks like the rotation’s weakest link

(Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) /

Given the fact Joe Musgrove gave the Padres bullpen the night off on Friday, manager Jayce Tingler was working with a loaded group of relievers Saturday. That fact, paired with a rocky second inning, led to a quick hook for right-hander Chris Paddack.

The team’s 2020 Opening Day starter failed to work deep into the game once again – although Tingler certainly made it sound like the rested bullpen played a big part in that decision. But through two starts, Paddack has totaled just eight innings of work, allowing five earned runs while striking out six and walking four.

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On Saturday, the Rangers got to Paddack for a trio of runs in the second via three extra-base hits. He settled in after that spell, but you’d still like to see him turn in a clean outing and start building some momentum moving forward.

"“I put my head down on the bench there in the end of the second inning, and I kept reflecting: ‘Three runs is all they’re getting,’” Paddack said. “I’ve got to make sure that I go out there and don’t show any lack of confidence, any frustration. That’s what I’m very pleased with myself for. When you get hit in the mouth a little bit, it’s hard to get back up. I thought we did a heck of a job.”"

San Diego’s bullpen is arguably the best in baseball, with an earned run average just north of 1.00 over the season’s first week-plus. So the quick hook in this situation makes some sense. But it’s still worth wondering if Paddack will ever return to his 2019 form, when he made 26 starts and finished the year with a 0.981 WHIP.

Chris Paddack needs to pitch deeper into ballgames, avoid big innings

With Dinelson Lamet nearing his return, the rotation will get a big boost in the next week or so. It stands to reason Adrian Morejon will be the odd man out when it comes to the rotation – but Paddack certainly has room to improve, as well.

He hasn’t gotten the swing-and-miss results you’d expect out of someone with stuff of his caliber. Through two starts, he’s managed just a 16.7 percent strikeout rate with a fly ball rate that’s up nearly 10 percent from last season.

Now, let me be clear. Paddack isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. But right now, he’s certainly one of the two weakest pieces in this rotation. Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove have been near-unhittable every time out and Yu Darvish turned in a gem in his second start of the year.

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Four-inning starts aren’t going to get the job done. Even with a bullpen that’s clearly up to the task of eating a ton of innings and doing so without sacrificing quality, San Diego needs all its starters – especially Paddack – to pitch deep into ballgames to keep the pen fresh throughout the year.