Paddack appears well positioned to break camp as a member of the Padres' rotation, Kevin Acee of The San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Manager Andy Green has been cagey about the Padres' rotation plans, but all signs point to Paddack opening the season in the big leagues, barring the late addition of another veteran starter to the mix or an organizational desire to delay the right-hander's MLB service clock. While Joey Lucchesi, Eric Lauer and Matt Strahm seem to have locked up their rotation spots, there's still two openings left vacant with the likes of Robbie Erlin, Luis Perdomo, Bryan Mitchell, Jacob Nix (elbow) and Brett Kennedy (lat) having removed themselves from consideration based on poor performance or injury this spring. That leaves Paddack and two other prospects (Logan Allen and Cal Quantrill) left standing in the competition, with Paddack having vastly overshadowed both thus far. Though Paddack battled some command issues while raising his pitch count to 75 in a minor-league game Tuesday, the Padres' decision to have him throw on the back fields rather than against the Diamondbacks' big-league lineup that same day can be viewed as a positive. San Diego is scheduled to face Arizona in its second series of the season, with Paddack a candidate to take the hill for one of those three games.
Paddack gave up one earned run on five hits over four innings in San Diego's 9-3 Cactus League victory over the Angels on Wednesday, striking out six and walking none. Paddack had never pitched above Double-A before this spring, but he's been dominant thus far in Cactus League play, with his latest sharp effort moving his ERA to 2.13 to go along with a league-leading 20 punchouts over 12.2 innings. Manager Andy Green has been mum to this point on exactly how San Diego's rotation will look to start the season, but Paddack continues to bolster his case for a spot with each strong outing.
Paddack tossed four scoreless innings against the Athletics in Cactus League play on Friday, scattering three hits and striking out seven with no walks in San Diego's 6-5 defeat. Paddack gave up a pair of runs in 2.2 innings in his last start, but the right-hander bounced back with a sharp outing in this contest, lowering his spring training ERA down to 2.08. If Paddack ends up parlaying his strong spring into a spot in the big-league rotation, manager Andy Green said the team will be "cognizant of his workload throughout the season" given that the 23-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery two years ago.
Paddack surrendered two runs on four hits and a walk across 2.2 innings Sunday in the Padres' 11-3 exhibition loss to the Rangers. Paddack turned heads after giving up an unearned run and striking out four in two innings during his Cactus League debut Feb. 26, but the right-hander had a rougher go of things in his second outing. On the positive side, he still whiffed more than a batter per inning, and only one of the four hits he allowed went for extra bases. Manager Andy Green has previously stated that Paddack has a "good chance" to make the Padres' Opening Day rotation, but the most likely outcome is that the 23-year-old heads to Triple-A El Paso to begin the season.
Manager Andy Green said Paddack has a "good chance" to make the rotation, Bill Center of MLB.com reports. "I think he should go to the mound every day expecting to make the rotation and pitching to make the rotation," the manager said. "If he shows himself as a great option for us, I will be excited about that. What day that is, if that's Opening Day, if it's a while into the season, we'll figure that out as camp unfolds." Paddack is more likely to open the season back in the minors, as he has yet to pitch above Double-A, though the Padres are apparently leaving the door open for the 23-year-old to seize an Opening Day rotation spot during camp. He posted an impressive 1.91 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and 120:8 K:BB across seven starts (90.0 innings) with Double-A San Antonio in 2018, so it seems likely we see him at some point. In his first Cactus League appearance, the youngster allowed one unearned run on one hit and one walk while striking out four in two innings against the Brewers on Tuesday.
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