What will the Padres starting rotation look like?

Padres pitchers James Shields, Brandon Morrow, and Andrew Cashner

One of the big questions facing the San Diego Padres in the 2016 season is what the back-half of their starting pitching rotation will look like.

Barring any injury, the first three slots in the pitching rotation are already filled in:

  1. Tyson Ross
  2. James Shields
  3. Andrew Cashner

The Padres are entering Spring Training with about six guys vying for the final two spots, and they could be vying for just one available spot if the team is successful in their attempt to sign former San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum.

Here are the guys that are hoping to stand out from the crowd over the next month:

Brandon Maurer pitched well for the Padres in 2015, but worked exclusively out of the bullpen. In 53 appearances, he pitched 51 innings and finished with an ERA of exactly 3.00. Maurer had an unsuccessful stint as a starting pitcher for the Mariners in the two seasons before, but is hoping to that Pitching Coach Darren Balsley can help him find his stuff as a starter this spring.

Brandon Morrow was arguably the most effective pitcher for the Padres in 2015, but he couldn’t stay healthy long enough to make an impact. In 5 starts, Morrow threw 33 innings, going 2-0 with a 2.73 ERA. After undergoing shoulder surgery in October, it would appear that Morrow is set to start the season in the bullpen to build up his arm strength before returning to the rotation.

Colin Rea is an interesting name to keep an eye on in this race. He was called up a little sooner than the team would’ve wanted last year, and finished with a 4.26 ERA and a 2-2 record in 6 starts. Those aren’t incredible numbers, but Rea did a good job of proving that he could at least survive in the major league as a rookie. If he can improve upon that showing in Peoria, the team would be hard-pressed to not find a role for him in that starting rotation.

As part of the big 2011 trade between the Rangers and Padres that sent reliever Mike Adams to the Texas bullpen for their run to an American League Championship, Robbie Erlin has never quite reached the potential that the Padres had hoped for. This year’s Spring Training may be the 25-year old’s last chance to crack into the San Diego starting rotation.

Carlos Villanueva spent most of his nine seasons in MLB as a mediocre starting pitcher before finding success as a relief pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals last season. I don’t expect him to go back to starting at this point.

Luis Perdomo, a 22-year old Rule V Draft pick that has never pitched about Single A baseball, likely doesn’t have the sophistication to his repertoire to handle starting at the big league level (yet). With a good fastball and slider, the team will definitely be looking to have him come out of the bullpen with a possible eye towards starting in a future season.

Prediction – Opening Day Starting Rotation

If I were to wager a guess, I would say that the 2016 Padres’ Opening Day starting rotation will probably look something like this:

  1. Tyson Ross
  2. James Shields
  3. Andrew Cashner
  4. Brandon Maurer
  5. Colin Rea

Knowing that the rotation will likely face a few injuries throughout the season and that depth is always a good thing, the Padres signing Tim Lincecum and inserting him into the rotation would be good thing for everyone not named Colin Rea. As for where he would be inserted, that’s anyone’s guess.

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