San Diego Padres: Chris Paddack not profiling as a starting pitcher

Chris Paddack of the San Diego Padres. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Chris Paddack of the San Diego Padres. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

The San Diego Padres are firmly in the driver’s seat as the second team in the National League’s Wild-Card chase. Currently, they lead the Cincinnati Reds by six games.

It’s remarkable their position in the standings considering the Padres’ struggles with getting consistent starting pitching. The biggest area of concern is Chris Paddack not profiling as a starting pitcher for a second consecutive year.

Paddack is not a workhorse starting pitcher

Throughout his three-year major league career, Paddack has failed to pitch effectively past the fifth inning. In 55 career starts, he has averaged 5.1 innings pitched.

Often, he begins by having success (.253) against an opposing team’s batting lineup the first time through. But it becomes a dicier project the next go-around. Opposing teams are batting .307 in their second at-bat against Paddack in the contest. This has left many of the Friar Faithful frustrated with the outcome of his starts this season.

The Friars have been incredibly patient with Paddack, but he has become a liability on the mound in most starts. It has been a steady decline that began with the 60-game campaign in 2020 and continued through the first half of this season.

His production has been quite disappointing. It might be time to stop expecting him to become an upper-echelon starting pitcher.

Move to the ‘pen could revitalize Paddack’s career

The most logical next move is sending Paddack to the bullpen before he regresses further on the mound. It may pay off in gaining a quality arm coming out of the ‘pen for the stretch run.

Sure, this is not what the Padres had in mind coming out of spring training, especially with the concerns about the starting rotation staying healthy for an entire 162-game season. And it is not your typical bullpen upgrade found in July. But Paddack could become a solid contributor to capturing a berth in the postseason.

It is all about trusting your stuff and attacking the strike zone. Paddack is a two-pitch (fastball and changeup) pitcher. He becomes more hittable when he struggles with the command of his pitches. The frustration centers on Paddack’s failure to add a third pitch to his repertoire. The addition will help him to stay longer in contests. The problem may come down to his unwillingness to learn a new pitch or have the confidence to throw it for strikes in games.

Major league hitters are not fooled by Paddack’s repertoire

Until then, good hitters will figure out Paddack’s approach on the mound after one at-bat. The scouting report is he loves challenging hitters will his high fastball. But rarely does Paddack waste one out of the strike zone.

Smart hitters will recognize that he throws his changeup low in the strike zone. So, you take that pitch for a ball and wait for his fastball to level out in your hitting zone. Thus, Paddack’s problems have been the location of pitches and being too stubborn to make in-game pitching sequence adjustments to certain batters.

However, challenging hitters with a high fastball is code lived by most dominant closers. One of the greatest of all time, Mariano Rivera, was a failing starter before making the transition to the bullpen. The time is right for Paddack to make the same move as well.

A change in his role will allow Paddack to gain sudden movement on his fastball that could be enough for him to be more effective in recording outs. It would be wise to begin Paddack in the long man’s role before inserting him in more stressful situations late in games. Once he gains some success, Paddack could contend for the closer’s role. But that is way down the road.

Next. Padres must overcome adversity to make playoffs. dark

The hope is for Paddack to regain the confidence to wear the hat and become “The Sheriff” once again.