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San Francisco Giants: Meet “New and Improved” San Diego Padres

By Mark ONeill
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Having alerted San Francisco Giants fans yesterday, to the danger of the newly-revamped San Diego Padres’ starting lineup, the time has arrived to peruse what comprises the current rotation, to not only see what the Giants will be facing, but to do a little comparing between the two rotations. With A.J. Preller tossing Cole Hamels’ name around, it should be interesting to see what is currently in place.

MLB Rumors’ Thomas Carannante posted an article on December 30th, in which he listed six San Diego Padres starting pitchers as likely to compete for five slots in the rotation, while pointing out that all are right-handed pitchers. The other thing they all have in common is youth: none is older than thirty. He also pointed out that newly-acquired lefty Robbie Erlin, would change matters if he were to wrestle a spot away during spring training.

Andrew Cashner, 28, (19 G, 5-7, 2.55 ERA, 1.127 WHIP, 93 K, 29 BB, WAR 1.9 in 2014) struggled with elbow, shoulder neck injuries in 2014, while missing about half of the season. He ended up going winless for eleven straight starts during one stretch, in which he posted a 2.86 ERA.

Ian Kennedy, 30, (33 G, 13-13, 3.63 ERA, 1.289 WHIP, 207 K, 70 BB, 1.4 WAR in 2014), formerly of the Arizona Diamondbacks, had 207 Ks last season and has to be thrilled with the new power in the lineup.

Giants fans with long memories will remember Kennedy from his days in Arizona.

Kennedy has faced fifteen current Giants in his career, holding them to a .232 batting average, with three home runs, three triples, 12 doubles and nineteen RBIs. He has struck out 51 current Giants and walked 23 of them.

Tim Lincecum will find no-hitting the padres to be much more challenging with their new and improved starting lineup.. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Cuban-born Odrisamer Despaigne, 27 years old (16 G, 4-7, 3.36 ERA, 1.215 WHIP, 65 K, 32 BB, -0.3 WAR in 2014), signed a minor-league contract with the Padres on May 2, 2014, and made his MLB debut on June 23rd. Giants fans may remember watching Despaigne shut out San Francisco for seven innings, in a game the Pads won, 6-0.

Brandon Morrow, 30, (13 G, 1-3, 34 games total from 2012-2014, 5.67 ERA, 1.650 WHIP, 30 K, 18 BB, -0.6 WAR in 2014) has played his entire career in the American League, first with Seattle, and then with Toronto. He suffered a sprained right index finger, and was placed on the fifteen-day disabled list on May 3rd of 2014. Later, it was determined to be a torn tendon sheath in his right hand, and he was placed on the 60-day disabled list. He ended up starting thirteen games last season and signed a one-year deal with San Diego last week.

30-year-old Josh Johnson had Tommy John surgery in 2014 for the second time (the first was in 2007). He was with the Blue Jays in 2013 but was limited to sixteen starts due to injuries. He posted a 2-8 win/loss record with a 6.20 ERA and a 1.660 WHIP. His WAR was -1.5 and he had an 83 K to 30 BB ratio. He signed with the Padres for the 2014 season, but then ended up back on the operating table, and re-signed last week, hoping to be able to back the truck up and make good on his original effort to pitch for San Diego last season.

The Padres have youth but of the six prospective rotation candidates, only two had full seasons in 2014, the other four starting 19, 16, 13 and zero games respectively last season.

Oct 26, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) and catcher Buster Posey (28) celebrate after defeating the Kansas City Royals during game five of the 2014 World Series at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants have Madison Bumgarner, coming off of another lengthy postseason effort, including his epic performance in the 2014 World Series. But there are questions about how durable he will continue to be because of his extensive experience in the playoffs.

Matt Cain should be raring to go after having bone spurs removed from his elbow, but again, questions always arise following surgery to end a season, especially when there was also surgery to remove bone spurs from his ankle. I would expect a solid effort from Cain in an effort to make up for 2014, but the higher expectations soar, the farther they have to fall, should technical difficulties arise.

Tim Lincecum showed signs of brilliance in 2014, during a five-game stretch that included his second no-hitter against these Padres, but Timmy has not been consistent enough in recent times to make any rash assumptions about how big of a role he will play in 2015. It has been suggested that Yusmeiro Petit begin the season as the fifth starter, leaving Lincecum to fill the role of long reliever. Spring training should help clarify this situation immensely.

Tim Hudson is slated to fulfill the terms of his two-year contract, having succeeded finally in 2014 in acquiring his first world series ring. He started strongly in 2014, before experiencing hip issues in the latter half of the season, raising questions as to his durability. But Hudson is a member in good standing of the Southern contingent, and will certainly give it fierce effort to help San Francisco return to the playoffs.

Jake Peavy recently signed a two-year, 24 million dollar contract, after providing such a stellar effort last summer to get the Giants into the postseason, that he got the opportunity to return to San Francisco.

He told media that he and his family had not forgotten how conscientious the Giants were when it came to facilitating their move across the country, when Peavy was first traded to the Giants last July 26th. Sometimes it’s the small things that make an impression on a family man and let’s not forget that Peavy also represents that group of “git-er-done” Southern home-boys.

With yesterday’s assessment that the Padres had dramatically improved their starting lineup by infusing it with some power and some veteran presence, the Giants will find that the price of poker has gone up. Both Andrew Cashner and Ian Kennedy have proven formidable foes in the past, and Tyson Ross had an impressive season last year. With Despaigne establishing himself in the short time that he has been in the United States, the Padres are a force to be reckoned with.

And ultimately, if Preller feels he is the straw that will stir the drink, Cole Hamels may also be joining San Diego, and then you will really see the whites of the Giants’ eyes, as they survey what’s in front of them.

If that happens, it just may be time to upgrade the NL West from wild to savage, because it’s going to be a real dog-fight.

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