Joe Musgrove's sluggish start has Padres' fans ready to hit the panic button

Let's hope this isn't a sign of things to come.

San Diego Padres pitcher Joe Musgrove
San Diego Padres pitcher Joe Musgrove / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages

The power-packed efforts of Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. were wasted on Friday. Machado got the party started with a solo shot in the bottom of the fourth inning, and Tatis had two round-trippers on the night.

But three runs wasn't going to be enough to beat the San Francisco Giants. In fact, the Giants scored three runs of their own during the first inning off San Diego starter Joe Musgrove. Tack on the RBI single off the bat of Jung Hoo Lee in the top of the fourth inning, and the Padres trailed 4-0 before even scoring a run.

For the second time in as many starts, Musgrove has struggled. On Friday night, in front of over 45,000 Padres fans at Petco Park, Musgrove allowed four runs on eight hits while striking out just three batters. Is it time for Pads fans to hit the panic button?

Joe Musgrove's sluggish start has Padres' fans ready to hit the panic button

Musgrove laid an egg in the Seoul Series as well. During his first start of the season, Musgrove worked just 2.2 innings, allowed five runs on seven hits and struck out only two batters. Thankfully the Padres' bats helped San Diego survive the 15-11 affair.

But the margin for error this season is not great. The Padres lost NL Cy Youung Award-winner Blake Snell from the starting rotation along with Nick Martinez, Seth Lugo, and Michael Wacha. President of Baseball Operations A.J. Preller helped to offset the losses with the additions of Dylan Cease and Michael King, but if the Padres hope to compete in the NL West, Musgrove cannot continue to falter like he has through the first two weeks of the 2024 season.

Musgrove's scuffles through the first two starts of 2024 become more troublesome when you see how much he struggled during the Cactus League as well. Musgrove allowed nine runs on seven hits to go along with just five strikeouts and four free passes during three starts this spring. The uptick in base hits and downturn in strikeouts should be concerning.

But it's still early, and the Friar faithful need not hit the panic button just yet. If Musgrove remains on schedule, his next start should come on Wednesday against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Los Angeles Dodgers have kept the Cards' bats in check during the first two games of the 2024 season. If Musgrove can do the same, Pads fans can take a deep breath. But if the right-hander fails to put up the type of numbers this fanbase is used to, a deeper discussion may need to be had.

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