FriarBall: 2007 recaps: Starting pitching

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

2007 recaps: Starting pitching

Alright, so it's been almost another week between posts so I guess it's time to get to my thoughts on the starting pitching in 2007.

What started out as one of the team's strongest parts became somewhat of a problem as things wore on. If Jake Peavy doesn't win the Cy Young, it will be a tragedy as he was clearly the best NL pitcher this year. Not only was he the only starting pitcher in the majors with an ERA under 3.00 ( he finished with 2.54), he also led the NL in wins and strikeouts - the pitcher's triple crown. But behind him was one roller coaster of a staff.

Competing with Peavy for the Cy Young through the All Star break was teammate Chris Young, however he tailed off after an oblique injury early in the second half of the season. Once the injury hit, you never knew how good Young would be for how long and it showed in his stats. On July 24, Young was 9-3. Then after the injury he went 0-5 (to finish with a 9-8 record) and the Pads went 2-8 during that span.

Greg Maddux had a similar situation happen to him where he had five consecutive losses but he followed that up with five wins in his next six starts and finished with a 14-11 record. Maddux clearly wasn't the Maddux of old and for a long time it seemed that he needed to be pulled by either the sixth inning or 65 pitches, whichever came first. But he picked it up in the second half and threw less than 65 pitches only once.

After Maddux the rotation was a complete mess. Clay Hensley battled early season injuries and was never able get going once he was healthy. David Wells was like Maddux but compounded, needing to be pulled by around 50 pitches before he imploded. He was so ineffective that he was eventually released. And while Justin Germano came up huge at the start of the season he eventually wore down and was no better or worse than any of the other pitchers the Pads were trying to get quality starts out of every now and then.

All of this inconsistency eventually wore down the pen and contributed to SD missing the playoffs, but that is more of a discussion for the breakdown of the pen. With Peavy and Young back healthy, the top spots of the rotation are obviously taken care of but after that its anyone's guess as to who will fill out the spots in '08. Maddux has a player option and would again be a good back-of-the-rotation guy, but it is obvious the Nos. 4 and 5 spots will need to be addressed.

Hensley is probably not an option and Germano may be better suited for long relief. And from what the guys the Pads were trying out at the end of the season, none of them really seized the opportunity provided to them in a time of need. There is clearly some need here, no matter how strong it was thought to be at the beginning of 2007.

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