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Time To Drill Down To See What The Padres Need and Why They Need It

What I learned this weekend in sports

Rich Herrera
May 13, 2019 - 12:40 pm

We are almost at the quarter pole that front offices use to gauge a team and make adjustments to the rosters, picking up and getting rid of players.

The first traditional quarter pole is Memorial Day, for a GM to get a feel for how the team he put together on paper looks in real life.  For the Padres, I think they look as good as they do on paper.

The sample size is big enough for AJ Preller to begin thinking of adding parts, while the Giants' GM is already beginning to consider jettisoning core parts of his team that he knows will not compete this season in the NL West.  

For Preller, I think it’s pretty obvious his team needs more arms. Now for the tricky part, what kind of arms does he need and what will the price be for those arms?

How would Madison Bumgarner look in a Padres uniform with a 2-4 mark and a 3.88 ERA?

Right now Chris Paddack is 3-1 with a 1.55 ERA.  But the difference between the two is that Bumgarner has thrown 55.2 innings so far in 2019 with 58 strikeouts versus Paddack’s 40.2 innings tossed and his 46 K’s this season.

I know Padres fans would cringe seeing a former Giant playing for the home team at Petco Park, but the number belies what Preller has to look at when evaluating his ball club.

I am not saying Bumgarner is the option. In fact, I know he is not the solution.  

The Giants are going to ask for a king’s ransom for him and the Padres have long term solutions in-house for the future for this club. They should not allow the early success of 2019 alter the rock-solid blueprint they have right now.  

Do you remember Preller picking Chicago's pocket in the Tatis Jr. for Shields deal? Preller was able to use a team’s knee jerk reaction in thinking they have a winner to land a future All-Star.

No one around Petco would like to see Josh Naylor (wearing orange and black and hitting homers) versus Chris Paddack in three years, would they?  

I also want to make the point that I am not beating up Chris Paddack. He has such a high ceiling, he will be a bedrock in the Padres' rotation for years to come. He will only get better with age. And like all rookies, there is a learning curve. Right now he is fun to watch and will get even better.

Now that I have made you throw up in your mouth, let’s go back to why I am using Bumgarner in this analysis. Plain and simple: he has eaten up innings for the Giants even with a losing record.

When you dig into the numbers for this season, the numbers are jarring. I pointed out that Bumgarner has 15 more innings than Paddack this year. Clayton Kershaw has pitched in 3 fewer games than Paddack and 4 less than Bumgarner and already has 32.2 innings thrown.

Young pitchers don’t usually eat up innings when breaking into the big leagues for a number of reasons. One is that they have strict pitch count limits and have never been asked to throw deep into games in the minors because teams keep a close watch on their workload to keep them away from injury.  

Another reason is young pitchers tend not to pitch to contact, meaning they try to strike hitters out.  Everyone loves a good punch out, but as pitchers get older they realize that you have to mix in a pop fly and a ground out and get a few one pitch outs to keep you in the game longer.

Here is the trend that I discovered this morning crunching numbers: the Padres' bullpen has been used in more high-leverage situations than just about anyone in baseball. That means when you see Andy Green bring in someone from the bullpen, more often than not they are coming in to put out a smoldering fire.

The Padres are tied for the lead in baseball for using their bullpen in high leverage situations.

Those max-effort-game-on-the-line appearances add up and tax a bullpen.  

The Padres are tied for the lead with the Reds, with 61 high leverage approaches. On the flip side, the Padres are ranked #27 with just 35 times they used a pitcher in a low leverage situation.

Many of these situations are Yates saving games, which is part of a winning team's formula - but you can only tax a bullpen so much before you see them begin to fade late in the season.

This is just the beginning of what many say will be the ascension of the Padres to the top of the NL West. Preller is smarter than I am, and I know they saw this way before I did, and I am pretty confident he has a plan in mind that doesn’t involve getting Bumgarner and giving up the farm.  In Preller I trust...