It would pretty pretty hard for Joe Musgrove to live up to what he’s accomplished since the last time he took the mound at Petco Park- throwing the first no-hitter in San Diego Padres history. But he definitely didn’t disappoint in his outing on Monday, despite San Diego dropping the contest by a 3-1 final.
Musgrove tossed seven innings, allowing just a pair of runs and setting a new career-high with 13 punchouts. The right-hander now leads the league in strikeouts on the year (37) and is averaging 12.8 K/9 – right in-line with what he did in his first season with the Padres last year.
That’s all impressive enough in and of itself. And, no I haven’t even talked about his 0.538 WHIP or 1.04 ERA – both of which are Cy Young-worthy. It’s how he’s going about dominating opposing hitters that’s been so special.
Musgrove’s offspeed offerings are of another world right now. The right-hander is relying on his slider and cutter more than ever before – and the results speak for themselves. He paired that change with a precipitous decline in the usage of a four-seam fastball. In other words, he’s mixing and matching rather than trying to overpower hitters with velocity.
Padres: Joe Musgrove’s slider is near-unhittable right now
Opponents are batting just .033 on the year against Musgrove’s slider – hence why he’s going to it so often. Meanwhile, they’re batting .571 against his straight four-seamer; so it makes sense that he’s relying on that pitch far less often than he had during his time with the Pirates.
His opposite number on Monday, Brewers ace Brandon Woodruff, who’s enjoying a career year so far, as well, had nothing but praise for Musgrove’s breaking pitches after the game.
"“Man, his breaking ball is really, really good,” Woodruff said. “And he uses it a ton. … You see the swings from the hitters, too. That tells you everything. By no means am I a hitter. I did what a pitcher does. I swung and missed at the curveball. You saw it when he threw that no-hitter. He throws it a ton, and it’s really sharp.”"
Four starts in, Joe Musgrove looks like the steal of the offseason for the Padres and GM AJ Preller – and just the latest in a long line of young arms to thrive once they get out of the Pittsburgh organization. You know what, though? I’m not complaining. Joe is home – and he’s pitching like an ace.