The starting rotation coming into spring training for the San Diego Padres had some questions that needed to be answered. Who would be the opening day starter and could Edinson Volquez become the true ace that the Padres were hoping he could be when they dealt one of their prized young pitchers, Mat Latos, to the Cincinnati Reds for him in a five- player deal in 2011?
Volquez was selected to be the opening day starter by manager Bud Black earlier this week. It will be the third consecutive opening day start for the right-hander, the last two being with the Padres and in 2010 he started opening day for the Reds. Volquez was honored, grateful and excited to once again be named the opening day starter.
In 2012, Volquez went 11-11 with a 4.14 ERA in 32 starts with the Padres. Coming into spring training, manager Bud Black wanted to work with Volquez on his mechanics. However, due to the fact that Volquez pitched with the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, Black and pitching coach Darren Balsley did not get to work with him as much as they may have liked this spring. The biggest detriment to Volquez achieving more success is that he walks too many batters. In 2012, Volquez led the National League in walks with 105 free passes.
So far this spring, things have not improved from where he left off last season. In three spring training starts, Volquez has walked eight batters in nine innings. He attributes his problems with walking so many batters to when he is pitching out of the stretch.
In his last spring training start of the spring, Volquez walked six batters in five innings against his former team the Reds. He only allowed one run on two hits, but the walks piled up on his pitch count, which was the same problem Volquez had last year as well.
In Volquez’s best season in the majors so far, he walked 93 in in 196 innings pitching with the Reds in 2008. That season he finished with a 17-6 record and 3.21 ERA while striking out 206. The 93 walks did not lead the league, but that is still too high of a number, even for a pitcher who can strike a lot of batters out such as Volquez.
Now at 30-years old, if Volquez wants to take the next step in his career from a good to very good or even great pitcher, he is going to have to cut down on his walks allowed or there will be many happy New York Mets fans come opening day for all the “free passes.”