New Dimensions in Bad Pitching

Last year’s starting rotation was a disaster. The Padres used 15 different men in that role, with only Clayton Richard and Edinson Volquez making their full complement of starts.

Jeff Suppan, who hadn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2010, started six games. Kip Wells, who hadn’t done so since 2009, started seven.

Despite playing half their games at cavernous Petco Park, the Padres saw their starting pitchers post the fourth-worst ERA (4.44) in the National League. Only the Cubs (4.52), Astros (4.62), and Rockies (5.81) were worse. You may recognize those as teams that will pick ahead of San Diego in this year’s June draft.

And of course, Petco will be less cavernous in 2013. This should make things more interesting, if not necessarily better, but we’ve been over that.

What did the Padres do to address their rotation? They traded for Tyson Ross, re-signed Jason Marquis and Tim Stauffer, and signed Sean O’Sullivan and Freddy García. Money may have been a factor.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, this is duct tape on an open wound and may not have been the best message for new ownership to send its remaining fan base. Subduing the enemy without fighting sounds noble, but there is little to suggest that Sun Tzu’s strategy will work in this context.

Excluding Andrew Cashner, Joe Wieland, and Cory Luebke, who will start the year on the disabled list, here are the big-league stats of each of the current rotation candidates over the past two seasons:

Player Age GS IP ERA+
Eric Stults 33 15 111.0 118
Freddy García 36 42 254.0 99
Anthony Bass 25 18 145.1 98
Tim Stauffer 31 32 190.2 95
Clayton Richard 29 51 318.1 91
Jason Marquis 34 45 259.2 79
Edinson Volquez 29 52 291.1 79
Tyson Ross 26 19 109.1 76
Sean O’Sullivan 24 24 142.0 67
Casey Kelly 23 6 29.0 59
Robbie Erlin 22 0 0.0

Good news: There are plenty of options. Bad news: Uh, look at those options.

Kelly and Erlin have futures. So do Cashner, Wieland, and Luebke if they return to form when healthy. The rest of these guys have–well, they have arms.

If nothing else, this promises to be a good stress test for the new dimensions at Petco Park. Hopefully the club has Shawn Estes and Cha-Seung Baek on speed dial.

Estes and Baek. Ah, 2008 was the best. Nothing like 99 losses to get the blood pumping.

The Padres could reach that total again in 2013, although as Bryant notes, 82-88 losses is more likely. It’s nice to think that their strong finish last season indicates better things to come, but even in March I’m struggling to locate my optimism.

Still, you should feel inspired. Note that the question of what you should feel inspired to do is left intentionally vague.

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Who do you like in the rotation? Why? Leave a comment, send an email (, or hit me up on Twitter (@ducksnorts).

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  • Apparently I need to make sure my nephew continues pitching despite his penchant for the long ball. You will never be out of work in the Padres Organization if you can throw a baseball.

  • Met

    I’m holding out hope they announce open tryouts to the public. I have a vicious change-up, as fast as Bob Tewksbury’s legendary curve ball.

  • mensrea

    “Duct tape” may not be the best analogy. Because duct is actually awesome and can fix anything.

  • KC

    It could have been worse. I see that Mark Prior (who hasn’t pitched in the bigs since 2006) has signed a minor league deal with the Reds after spending last year rehabbing in the Red Sox organization. Somehow the Pads overlooked him in their desperate search for pitching in 2012. Maybe they figured he had already spent enough time (2008 AND 2009 — thanks, KT!) on the San Diego DL.

  • VM David

    Shawn Estes is only 40. Might as well give him a look.

  • GoldenBoy

    At least the owners are responding to the demand for more offense at Petco.