Padres rotation battle gets more interesting

Baseball 16 Mar 2010

Coming into spring training it seemed like the only spot being fought for was the 5th spot, but now all indications are that both the 4th and 5th positions are up for grabs.  I thought Clayotn Richard threw well enough last year to probably earn at least a “job to lose” coming into spring, but apparently it is only his if he can take it.  This is a significant change for several reasons.

  1. 1. It opens the door for the Padres to more easily retain the two no-option pitchers, Sean Gallgher and Tim Stauffer, without having to expose them through waivers.  Both, or one can start and the other can go to the bullpen as a long man, if warranted.  If they both pitch well, they can both be kept.
  2. 2. It makes it easier for Mat Latos to make the team.  It was possible when only one spot was open, that Latos could be sent down to make room for either of the no-option pitchers, no matter how well he threw simply because of the perceived need to keep depth in the organization (hang on to as many bodies as possible).  With two spots now being available Latos almost will certainly make the team if he continues to pitch well, since there would still be room for Gallagher and Stauffer as either the 5th starter or long man.
  3. 3. It shows that the Padres now feel they have multiple legitimate starting pitching options.  They don’t have to hand a job over to a young pitcher who has shown promise, but in the eyes of the team may still have some things to work on.

I’m not saying Clayton Richard won’t still get one of the rotation spots out of spring, but it will only be if he is throwing as one of the best 5 starting pitchers in camp.  Nice to see a true competition amongst valid candidates who are pitching well, rather than what Padres fans may have felt in the past as the last rotation spot being filled by whichever underachiever was left standing.

Keep firing, guys, because it appears that this time the best men will win.

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