Things did not go as planned for the San Diego Padres in 2023. One year after reaching the National League Championship Series against the Philaelphia Phillies, GM A.J. Preller improved the team in free agency, but the Friars came up short of their goal. Heck, they came up so short, that they didn't even make the playoffs as a Wild Card team.
Since the season ended three weeks ago against the Chicago White Sox, a lot of been written about the failures of the season, and rightfully so. However, there were some bright spots this season, and here were three of them.
1. Michael Wacha
Signed as a free agent after a good 2022 season with the Boston Red Sox, Michael Wacha pitched well for the Padres and if it wasn't for a shoulder injury that cost him some time, things may have been different for San Diego with him taking the ball every fifth day.
Just how good was Wacha? He was the clear No. 2 behind Blake Snell when he was on the mound, going 14-4 with a 3.22 ERA in 24 starts and 134.1 innings pitched. He finished with 124 strikeouts. The Iowa City native was arguably better this season for San Diego than was last season in Boston.
Wacha signed a four-year, $26 million contract with the Padres and had a club option for 2024 for $16 million, something you think San Diego will pick up, especially with the likelihood of Snell leaving in free agency. Can Wacha step up and be an ace? Who knows, but if there is one thing that this season taught us, it's that he's needed back next season to be a starter that can counted on every fifth day.