04 March 2008

2008 Padres Pitchers Preview

Be sure to check out the previous entry on the Padre position players for 2008.


Christopher Ryan Young

I just wonder if a guy so tall and powerful can stay healthy, or if he'll continue to have back problems, as he did in the last two months of 2007. Young started slowly in 2007, then was the best pitcher in the major leagues from May to July.

April ERA --- 4.33
May ERA --- 1.13
June ERA --- 1.52
July ERA --- 0.41

Sometime in August Young's back really began to bother him.

August ERA --- 5.48
September ERA --- 6.27

He just wasn't the same pitcher at the end of the year. His walks were way up, and he started giving up home runs again, too, after banishing them after his so-so April.

The Padres really need Young to be healthy, because after him and Peavy the rotation is awfully thin, unless one pretends name recognition equals depth.


Jacob Edward Peavy

What is there to say? His road ERA last year was 2.57. He struck out more than a batter an inning, and walked less than one every three innings. He allowed only 13 home runs last year, including one to Nomar Garciaparra! He is the best pitcher in the NL West, and we may see a terrific duel for the 2008 NL Cy Young between him and Santana.


Gregory Alan Maddux

Maddux just doesn't strike hitters out anymore. He stays average by keeping his walk totals way down. His road ERA was 4.65 last year. At the age of 41 he's become the classic innings-eater. See, Brett Tomko, this is how it's done. Being an innings-eater doesn't mean you get to completely stink.

Maddux is about a 2-1 ground ball pitcher. He would really benefit from some stellar infield defense, but I don't think he's going to get it. At best that infield defense is average, though I know a lot of people have a higher regard for Greene's defense than I do.

Last year the Padres were 17-17 when Maddux started. I just wonder if the Padres offense will score enough this year for them to be break even in Maddux's starts again this year.


Randall Christopher Wolf

My prediction for Wolf in 2008: Two months of great pitching, two months of bad pitching when he's fighting injury, and two months on the DL. This would be one more great month than he gave the Dodgers in 2007.

It's just impossible to know with Wolf. It's a good gamble by the Padres to sign him, because when healthy Wolf is good. But realistically the Padres can't be counting on Wolf any more than the Dodgers can be counting on Schmidt.


Mark William Prior

The depth chart on the Padres official website lists him as the fifth starter. So does the depth chart on espn.com. Well, okay. Prior didn't pitch last year. He made 9 starts in 2006 for an ERA of 7.21. I'll believe it when I see it, I guess.

Strikeout challenged Justin Germano is also a rotation possibility, as is imported reliever Ledezma. By August the Padres may well have a rotation of Peavy, Maddux, and three new faces, if injuries hit them hard. Even if Young stays healthy the entire year the Padres don't have a lot of depth in the rotation, unless having a lot of injury-prone guys counts as depth.

The Padres have a lefty prospect named Wade LeBlanc who might be called up into the rotation by the middle of 2008. Maybe prospect Josh Geer could be called up at some point. But the Padres have no one who is likely to be any better than Justin Germano or a declining Greg Maddux, no Clayton Kershaw who could potentially set the world on fire when he comes up. ( Not saying that Kershaw would do that, only that it's a reasonable possiblity. ) Peavy and Young are great, but with their so-so offense the Padres can't afford to have three middling starters behind them, and that's what they are likely to have most of the year. But if Wolf can stay healthy and put it all together, then this rotation looks a whole lot better.


Bullpen

Trevor Hoffman just isn't as good as his reputation anymore, or maybe it is, since his reputation should have taken a hit after how he ended 2007. Hoffman is still a good closer, though he had an ERA above 4.5 on the road last year. ( Small sample size, though. ) Bell, Cameron, and Thatcher were terrific. Meredith was okay. With relievers one never knows, ( see Linebrink's decline last year ) but this looks like a team strength headed into 2008. If I had to guess I'd say the Padres will have a better 'pen in 2008 than the Dodgers, but only barely, by the long hair of a Beimel.


Summary

Maybe everything breaks right for the Padres, and they have terrific pitching again, enough to carry their suspect offense. With Peavy and Young in the rotation and their good bullpen they certainly have to be considered contenders. But I just can't see picking them to win the NL West. Right now both the Snakes and Rockies look better than the Padres, and the Dodgers too, though the Dodgers have so many question marks that it's hard to say that for sure. But the Dodgers have two things the Padres don't have: true depth in the starting pitching and lots of offensive players with potential to get better. I see a fourth place finish for the Friars in 2008. The Padres seem to have some good young players come up through the farm system, and their GM is top-notch, so even if they slip in 2008 they may be right back in the mix by 2009.

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