Padres are using their pitching depth in a proactive way to limit stud rookie Chris Paddack's workload
The Padres have the most young pitching depth in baseball and they aren't afraid to use it
The San Diego Padres have thus far been one of the most fun teams in baseball this season. Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. deserve credit for that title, as does a young rotation that has been among the game's best. If there's a drawback to relying on youth, it's that sometimes fresh arms require conservative management when it comes to workload and rest.
Take for example Chris Paddack, the cowboy hat-wearing 23-year-old currently sporting a sub-2 ERA through six starts. He's thrown 33 innings already, notable given he's topped 50 innings in a season once -- last year, when he notched 90. Paddack, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2017, appears to be a big part of the Padres' present and future. As such, San Diego is wisely limiting his output this season.
While Paddack's exact innings cap is unknown (and appears flexible), the Padres have taken steps throughout the season to give him and Matt Strahm extra days off, with neither having pitched on the customary four days of rest. Here's more, per AJ Cassavell of MLB.com:
To that extent, the Padres mapped out a plan for Paddack during the offseason. Thus far, they haven't deviated. They've used off-days to give him extra rest. When there aren't any off-days, they've called up prospects for spot starts. Right now, in a stretch of 13 games in 13 days, Cal Quantrill is with the Padres for at least two starts, giving them a temporary six-man rotation.
There's nothing new about the Padres' ongoing attempt to balance competing now versus preserving Paddack for the future, but their surplus of young arms is an unusual quality. So often depth is regarded as a reactive measure to injury -- if this player gets hurt then the team will plug in that player -- but the Padres are leveraging their depth in a proactive way to prevent injury. Hence calling up the likes of Pedro Avila and Cal Quantrill for spot-starts.
The wild thing is that the Padres have plenty of other candidates to trot out there for similar assignments. In theory, San Diego could turn to Logan Allen (ranked No. 9 in the system by MLB.com), or Adrian Morejon (No. 7), or Michael Baez (No. 8), or Reggie Lawson (No. 29) throughout the year. And those are just the arms stationed in Double- or Triple-A who are considered top-30 prospects. That doesn't include Avila or Quantrill or any prospect stationed lower in the system; it doesn't include Garrett Richards or Dinelson Lamet (two veterans rehabbing from injury); and it doesn't include Luis Perdomo or Bryan Mitchell, two afterthoughts who combined for more than 30 starts for the Padres last season.
When it comes to pitching depth, especially of the young variety, few teams can compare to the Padres. San Diego hopes mindful workload management will keep it that way.
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