When you think of some of the characteristics of a roach, words like nasty and quiet may come to mind. Also, you may think about how roaches have a tendency to find themselves in unexpected places. Well, the San Diego Padres don’t have an insect problem that I’m aware of, but they do have a roach of their own — a young pitcher named Donn Roach whose nasty sinker and quiet spring might earn him an unexpected role with the big club this season.
Roach, a 24-year old pitcher acquired from the Los Angeles Angels in 2012, has never pitched above double-A as a professional but is holding his own against big league players so far this spring. Having pitched more Cactus League innings than any other Padres player early on, the coaches are clearly trying to get a good look at the young righty. They have to be nothing less than impressed with Roach as he with a 2.35 ERA in 7.2 innings of work thus far this spring.
The earned run average is nice, but his .200 BAA and 0.78 WHIP is even more impressive. Entering Sunday’s matchup with the Arizona Diamondbacks in the middle of the fourth inning, Roach sat down all eight of the batters he faced in his 2.2 innings of work — six of those eight via the ground ball variety.
While we all love the strikeout, the fact that Padres’ pitchers were some of the most generous in regards to allowing home runs in 2013 should mean any pitch not hit in the air by an opponent should be a welcomed sight amongst Padres coaches and fans in 2014. Sunday’s starting pitcher against the Diamondbacks was projected fifth starter Eric Stults, who entered the game as the only Padres projected starter struggling this spring statistically.
In his best outing so far, Stults allowed five hits and two earned runs in 3.2 innings of work, lowering his era to 11.37 on the spring.
I don’t know about anyone else, but the fact that Stults allowed opponents to hit at such a high batting average against him last season, combined with his performance early this spring, has caused me to question how firm his grip on the job is going to be this season.
Roach has pitched both in relief and as a starter in his short professional career; because of that, one has to think that due to the level of his performance this spring, he has so be considered as one of the first players called upon if Stults’s poor spring performance should happen to carry over into the regular season.
Hopefully Stults can get it together, but if for some reason he cannot, Roach is definitely one to watch as a potential replacement.