2014 San Diego Padres - Starting Rotation Preview
The same negative impact PETCO Park has on hitters, it naturally has the opposite impact on pitching, which makes Padres starting pitchers worth a look. You'll be hard-pressed to find a Padres pitcher you can project for more than 15 wins, but there is some value to be found among the starting staff.
2013 Stats: 10-9 W-L; 3.09 ERA; 1.13 WHIP; 128K/47BB
Andrew Cashner was high on my sleeper list last season. After starting the year in the bullpen in an attempt to limit his innings, Cashner moved to the rotation and was disappointing at first. Pre-All Star break Cashner had a 3.80 ERA with an unhelpful 1.27 WHIP. Post-break he lived up to his promise, pitching to a fantastic 2.14 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. Cashner should have a more balanced 2014 and his reduced 7.3 K/IP in 2013 should move closer to his career 9.8 K/IP in 2014. I’ll start to look for Cashner in the 12th round and he'll make a nice 3rd or 4th starter on most fantasy teams.
2014 Projection: 12-9 W-L; 3.41 ERA; 1.21 WHIP; 140K/55BB
2013 Stats: 2-8 W-L; 6.20 ERA; 1.66 WHIP; 83K/30BB
The oft-injured Josh Johnson is coming off of surgery to remove bone spurs in his pitching elbow. Not exactly encouragement to take a chance on him. When healthy, Johnson has a filthy arsenal - no question. The issue is he's only pitched more than 100 innings in a season 3 times and last year with Toronto he was awful. Perhaps he was not fully healthy most of the year or perhaps the AL East was too much for him. Either way, I'm not ready to give up on Johnson completely (although I'm getting very close). Moving back to the National League, and to PETCO specifically, will have me looking for him very late in the draft as a possible upside pick. Think 20th round or later.
2014 Projection: 9-7 W-L; 3.65 ERA; 1.28 WHIP; 120K/55BB
2013 Stats: 7-10 W-L; 4.91 ERA; 1.40 WHIP; 163K/73BB
I do not see the appeal of Ian Kennedy at all. In his four full seasons as a starter he has one fantasy relevant season. In 2011, he won 21 games for the Diamondbacks with a 2.88 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. Since then, his ERA is a mediocre 4.43 and his WHIP is a mediocre 1.35. Unless you expect him to win upwards of 15 games for the Padres this season, I don't see much of a reason to have him on your team. When he was traded to the Padres last year for Joe Thatcher, Matt Stites, and a round B draft pick, it was expected that he would turn around his awful season – to that point his ERA was 5.23 and his WHIP was 1.42. Moving to San Diego helped drop his ERA by almost a full run, but 4.24 still isn’t very impressive. I expect he'll improve upon what we saw of him in San Diego, but I find him to be too inconsistent to use on my teams. If you want to draft him to use as a very infrequent plug and play, I won’t hold it against you, but he’ll still be there into the late 20s so don’t reach for him.
2014 Projection: 13-10 W-L; 3.79 ERA; 1.25 WHIP; 164K/71BB
2013 Stats: 3-8 W-L; 3.17 ERA; 1.15 WHIP; 119K/44BB
Tyson Ross is a guy that intrigues me. In 2013, Ross showed increased velocity and as a result, his K/9 rate jumped up from 6.2 his previous 3 years, to 8.6. Ross seems almost a lock to win a rotation spot, and if he does, he'll make for a nice sleeper pick. He is another Padres arm to look for late in the draft. Personally, I would take a chance on Josh Johnson over him this season, but I could easily regret that decision.
2014 Projection: 9-10 W-L; 3.52 ERA; 1.23 WHIP; 142K/73BB
2013 Stats: 11-13 W-L; 3.93 ERA; 1.27 WHIP; 131K/40BB
Eric Stults, like Ross, will compete for a rotation spot in 2014. He was a good enough real-life starting pitcher for the Padres last season, while eating up 203.2 innings and winning 11 games. I don't consider him fantasy relevant for my teams, but he could serve as a useful streamer in select spots.
2014 Projection: 12-11 W-L; 3.82 ERA; 1.26 WHIP; 136K/48BB
2013 Stats: 3-3 W-L; 4.12 ERA; 1.24 WHIP; 40K/15BB
Robbie Erlin will also use spring training to compete for a rotation spot. Erlin's minor league numbers, and his limited major league numbers don't jump out at me as overly impressive, but he is a lefty - so that's something. Erlin is not of interest to me for fantasy purposes and will most likely go undrafted in your fantasy leagues.
2014 Projection: 5-7 W-L; 4.09 ERA; 1.28 WHIP; 79K/34BB
2013 Stats: 1-3 W-L; 6.44 ERA; 1.65 WHIP; 46K/21BB
23-year old, Burch Smith, has a 9.8 K/9 ratio in the minors over 223 innings, and he actually increased that to 11.4/9 with the big club over 36.1 innings in 2013. Only Yu Darvish and Danny Salazer had a higher swing and miss percentage in 2013. Smith is only 23, so chances of him making the rotation, or even a fantasy impact in 2014, are slim. He does have a nice power arm, however, and his fantasy value could improve as the season rolls on.
2014 Projection: 1-4 W-L; 5.12 ERA; 1.41 WHIP; 62K/36BB
Other than Andrew Cashner, I don't expect any of the Padres starters to be drafted until after the 20th round. That means players like Ian Kennedy, Josh Johnson, and Tyson Ross can be picked up as wild card upside picks toward the end of your drafts and could provide sneaky value over the course of the season.