During the San Diego Padres’ season opener against the New York Mets, much focus was on the pitching abilities of the Padres’ starter Edinson Volquez. Volquez made it through the rough first inning without giving up a run to the Mets, who played a hell of a game. But as the game progressed, it became clear that his weaknesses as a pitcher are still going to be a problem this season.
Mainly, Volquez lacks control and fastball command, seen largely throughout his performance in the 2012 MLB season and in the opener against the Mets. Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley spoke openly about wanting to work with the right-hander by reducing his walk and pitch count, but Volquez missed a three-week period of the Padres Camp to help the Dominican Republic win the World Baseball Classic.
So, it is not to say that the Padres are working with a bum pitcher in the 2013 season. In 2012, Volquez had the ninth-best mark in the National League in opponents batting average. However, his performance thus far this season has been less than satisfactory; in three-plus innings he threw 79 pitches and only garnered 40 strikes. He has been described as “out of control.”
Volquez is in close company. The Padres are somewhat famous for their bad luck with their pitching staff during the 2012 season as well. Nearly every young starting pitcher in the 2012 season was derailed by serious injury as soon as they stepped onto the field at Petco Park. The strange phenomenon could have been the result of hiring pitchers with history of injury, or a training staff that did not properly work out the pitchers. But the rash of promising young pitchers dropping like flies seriously damaged the Padres’ chances of keeping up a consistent season, or ever making it to the playoffs, just as inconsistent pitching from someone like Volquez will do the same.
It is still very, very early into the season. What the Padres’ need is to hone Volquez’ skills and mold him into the finely crafted pitching machine that he is, as well as focus attention on the rest of the pitching staff. Maybe now is the time that new owner Ron Fowler will become less reluctant about bringing in new talent to the team.