Could Padres’ bullpen signing already be a bust before 2024 season starts?

The early returns are not positive.
San Diego Padres pitcher Woo Suk Go
San Diego Padres pitcher Woo Suk Go / Gene Wang/GettyImages

The San Diego Padres technically began their 2024 campaign last week in South Korea. The Friars split the Seoul Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers and will be back at Petco Park for their home opener on Thursday against the San Francisco Giants.

But one player who didn't set foot on the field in Seoul, nor will he be in attendance for Thursday's contest, is Woo-Suk Go. The right-handed reliever was optioned to Triple-A El Paso last week.

Is Go already a bust? That may be seem a bit harsh, but after signing him to a two-year, $4.5 million deal, the Padres were counting on Go to be a high-leverage arm coming out of their bullpen this season. Instead, Go's spring performance was plagued by inconsistency, and Pads fans have to wonder what's going on.

Could Padres’ bullpen signing already be a bust before 2024 season starts?

Go appeared in five games during the Cactus League this spring and posted a 12.46 ERA. Of course that number is highly inflated because of the small sample size. But Go allowed six earned runs in 4.1 innings of work, and his 5.84 FIP and 4.81 xFIP don't offer the Friar faithful much optimism for the future.

Go's numbers in the Korean Baseball Organization were much better. The right-hander posted a 3.68 ERA and 3.08 FIP during his final season in the KBO. Go also had a 65.8% ground ball rate. That number dropped to 37.5% this spring. After striking out over 30% of the batters he faced over the last three seasons in Korea, Go's strikeout rate was barely over 20% this spring.

Obviously the 25-year-old will be given time to adjust the pace of the major league game, and beginning his 2024 season at Triple-A might offer him a chance to get his legs under him without the pressure of having to make a roster out of spring training. After all, this is Go's rookie season.

In his stead, the Padres will be leaning heavily on Stephen Kolek, Enyel De Los Santos, and Tom Cosgrove. New Padres manager Mike Shildt called upon both Cosgrove and fellow free agent signee Yuki Matsui during both the teams first two games overseas. Look for both relievers, along with closer Robert Suarez, to get the bulk of high-leverage innings until Go proves himself in the minors.

If that never happens, San Diego may have misjudged how well the right-hander would adjust to the majors. But for now Go will be given time to get his timing and mechanics right while pitching in west Texas.

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