The Padres signed a 27-year-old international free agent from Cuba in early May and stuck him in Double-A, where he delivered a 1.17 ERA and 12:5 K:BB ratio in 7 2/3 innings over two starts before receiving a promotion. Moving to Triple-A El Paso, the player struggled, going 1-3 with a 7.61 ERA and 29:13 K:BB ratio in 23 2/3 innings over five starts. While the strikeout rate is nice, it certainly didn't look like this particular player was ready for primetime.
Fast forward to Tuesday night. Padres pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne was on the mound to face the Rockies, a team with the second-best OPS in the league against right-handed pitchers. Granted, Tuesday's version of the Rockies lineup didn't include injured starts like Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer, but the top half of the lineup is still pretty solid. Despaigne, coming off allowing 10 earned runs in 11 1/3 innings over his last two starts, shut down the men from Colorado, striking out a season-high eight batters over seven scoreless innings.
Would you believe me if I told you that player who seemed overwhelmed in Triple-A and the guy posting ace-level production Tuesday night was the same person?
Despaigne has become the latest in a long line of pitchers to come to Petco and turn into a viable Fantasy option. Jesse Hahn, who pitched Monday, owns a 2.52 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 62:28 K:BB ratio in 64 1/3 innings. Tyson Ross, Sunday's starter, owns a 2.63 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 160:56 K:BB ratio in 160 2/3 innings. On Saturday, Eric Stults delivered his second straight win, though his overall results have been poor. Ace Ian Kennedy pitched Friday and is scheduled to go again Wednesday.
Stults, Ross and Despaigne have been much better pitchers at home, while Hahn is enjoying a .192 road BABIP that is due for some regression. The Padres as a whole own a league-best 2.52 ERA at home, which is 45 points better than the league's best pitching staff in all situations (Mariners, 2.97 ERA).
In your mind, everything I just laid out is perfectly reasonable. We all know pitchers do better in Petco. So why are we so slow to snap up Padre pitchers when they join the rotation?
The owner that grabbed Despaigne as soon as he was promoted in June and started him in all his home games has watched the San Diego starter give up one earned run or no runs in four of his first five home starts -- and get blown up in the other home start, but his total home numbers are still nice. Hahn struggled in his first home start after coming up in June, which also doubled as his major-league debut, but he's given up seven earned runs in five starts since.
Despaigne is still unowned in a vast majority of CBSSports.com leagues, and it may be too late to grab him and expect Fantasy success, despite his gem Tuesday. After Wednesday, the Padres play their next 10 games on the road. Andrew Cashner will likely make his return at some point during that road trip, at which time someone loses their rotation spot. There's a decent enough chance that it's Despaigne that goes back to the minors that I won't bother recommending the pitcher as a Fantasy add at this time.
But keep the rookie in mind if he sticks around, as he's a worthy option in daily-lineup leagues when pitching at home, as all Padre pitchers have been. And next time a new Padre pitcher joins the rotation, don't hesitate to snap him up and use him at home.