Padres 2024 Opening Day roster projection 1.0: Top prospect solves outfield shortage

Who will take the field for the Padres during the first game of the 2024 season?
San Diego Padres outfielder Jackson Merrill
San Diego Padres outfielder Jackson Merrill / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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Padres Opening Day starting rotation (5)

  • Joe Musgrove
  • Michael King
  • Yu Darvish
  • Pedro Avila
  • Randy Vasquez

Joe Musgrove didn't instill much confidence in the Padres fanbase after his brief performance on Thursday against the Dodgers. Less than one inning of work, four earned runs, and no outs recorded is not a way to make friends and influence people. However, Musgrove had a long layoff after an injury-plagued 2023 season, and the hope is that Java Joe will return to form by Opening Day.

Yu Darvish will likely follow Musgrove in the Padres rotation, and newcomer Michael King will be looked to as the Friars' No. 3 starter. One of the key pieces in the Juan Soto deal with the Yankees, King will be looking to prove that he's ready to take the next step in his quest to become a full-time starter.

The battle for the final two spots in the San Diego rotation will be an interesting one to follow this spring, and there's arguably four or five starters who can make a case to be part of the Opening Day roster.

Pedro Avila and Randy Vasquez may have an advantage at the moment, but Jhony Brito has a live arm and will be given a chance to make a run at the active roster as well. Matt Waldron could certainly sneak onto the Opening Day roster, and don't sleep on Jairo Iriarte showcasing his talents this spring.

Jay Groome will be a name to watch as the lone left-handed starter on the Padres 40-man roster. The southpaw is also out of minor league options. San Diego could also surprise everyone and sign a free agent starter, like Michael Lorenzen, before the 2024 season begins.