There’s little doubt that when you look at the San Diego Padres and their future, Andrew Cashner will play a big role in it. Coming over in the Anthony Rizzo trade, Cashner served a role primarily out of the bullpen for the Padres in 2012.
His future role, because of the way he’s been utilized by San Diego in the past couple of years, remains almost up in the air. There could be an argument in favor of him being a reliever, but his stuff seems too good to keep him from being a starter.
The main argument for keeping Cashner in the ‘pen is his durability, or lack thereof. A guy who throws as hard and violently as Cashner does could easily be expected to deal with some injury issues. Which he has in his time with the Pads, appearing in only 33 games, and starting just five, last season.
His arsenal of pitches could make him a terrific closer for San Diego. He has a fastball that lives in the mid 90’s, but is capable of hitting 98. Add that to a slider and change, each of which take about 12 MPH off, and he could be deadly at the back end of the bullpen.
At the same time, though, he’s had success as a starter, this season in particular. He’s appeared in 23 games for the Padres in 2013, 18 of them being starts. He’s seen success over that span, with the best ERA (3.80) and FIP (3.78) of his career, despite a dip in his strikeout numbers.
Whether or not Cashner makes his living as a starter remains to be seen, and could be heavily dependent on his health. If he continues to show the same inability to remain healthy, then he could serve as a reliever. Given his success as a starter for the Padres this season, though, one has to imagine that the plan in place at this moment in time features him in their rotation moving forward.