The San Diego Padres, long a pitch-first organization, is in a bit of a rough shape this coming season in the starting pitching department with a talent-deficient rotation led by a wildly inconsistent Edinson Volquez and a back-end type pitcher in Clayton Richard.
How the rest of the rotation will pan out is only marginally more questionable, with a five-way competiton between prospects and back-end types slated for Spring Training.
That said, if quality is going to be an issue with the Padres’ starting pitching, quantity certainly won’t be.
The team signed journeyman starter Freddy Garcia today to make sure that there will be a culture of competition between the starting pitchers next season. Because of the relative lack of locks in the group that he’ll be competing with, Garcia could easily find himself with the starting job that he covets at this point in his career.
If anything, he’ll be in the right home park to succeed, as the element of his game that really held him back with the New York Yankees last year was his home run rate, which spiked to an uncomfortably-high 1.51 HR/9 in 2012, up from 0.98 from 2011. Petco has as good of a park factor to cut into that home run count as there is in the league, and if Garcia can maintain his 6-ish K/9 and keep his walks to under 3 BB/9, there’s a decent chance that he could see a minor resurgence back to the 2.2 fWAR season that he’s only one year removed from.
At 36-years old, age is not on Garcia’s side, and issues with his shoulder means that he’s no longer the innings-eater he used to be. That said, his skills are not fully dimished yet, as a 7.46 K/9 and 2.93 BB/9 in 2012 will attest to.
He’s a back-end pitcher that will be given a shot to compete for a rotation spot with a bunch of other back-end pitchers (like Jason Marquis, for example), and that he had success as a reliever last season (.198 BAA as RP) means that the Padres could find other uses for the veteran righty should he fail in earning a rotation spot.