The Padres pitching has stepped up at a time when the offense can’t seem to produce. Here are the biggest contributors.
Despite the San Diego Padres playing to an 8-13 record since the start of May, their pitching might be the reason they haven’t gone winless this month.
In May, they currently lead all of MLB in multiple major categories. They have allowed the least amounts of hits with 145, earned runs at 63, limited opponent’s batting average to just .210, and an ERA at 3.03.
Fans have seen an amazing stretch of starting pitching and bullpen performances from the Padres. Here are the most significant contributors so far this month.
Michael Wacha in the Padres Rotation
In a team featuring top pitchers like SPs Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish, and Blake Snell, SP Michael Wacha has risen above all this month. In fact, he is the only one that has truly shined.
In 25 innings pitched Wacha has allowed only one run, giving him an ERA of 0.36, which places him at number 1 for qualified starters.
Opposing hitters are slashing a paltry .129/.213/.141 off of Wacha. May 2023 may prove to be the greatest stretch of pitching in Michael Wacha’s 11-year career.
What might be most impressive this month is Wacha leaving 95% of runners on base. A figure that high is unsustainable over a full season, but it can prop up a hot streak like the one he is on right now.
RP Luis Garcia is one of the bullpen arms that has yet to allow an earned run this month.
Although he has only gone six and two-thirds innings, we are seeing numbers that clear his career averages. The most significant one is a 10.8 K/9 rate and an opponent batting average of .208.
This could be the start of a hot streak of a player that has underperformed since the start of the season. Garcia has a 4.66 ERA but has been looking more like his 2022 self of late where he pitched high-leverage playoff innings.
RP Steven Wilson is quietly having the best month of his short two-year career thus far.
In his 7.2 innings pitched, Wilson has not allowed a single run despite giving up five hits and 3 bases on balls. Opponents have just a .290 on-base percentage and are slugging only .259.
His 11.74 K/9 is the highest he has had in a one-month span. This could be the beginning of a nice little breakout for the 8th-round pick.
RP Nick Martinez began the season in the starting five rotation but has since moved out to the bullpen. To this point, the transition has paid off.
To anyone who knows a lot about Martinez, it is no surprise he is one of the largest contributors to the bullpen. His 1.54 ERA and .511 opponent OPS are something the Padres have leaned on heavily, as he has the most innings pitched out of any reliever in San Diego.
Martinez seems to be solidifying himself as a bullpen staple for the Padres. A middle relief role is evidently the best one for him, but he could also still be a spot starter if necessary.
This is a player many might not be familiar with on the Padres.
RP Tom Cosgrove made his MLB debut on April 29, 2023. In fact, of his nine innings pitched, 8.2 have come in May. He has quickly solidified himself as a key member of the ‘pen.
He has yet to allow a run while only giving up four hits and one walk. Opponents are hitting an extremely low .133 against him and have just a .161 on-base percentage. His 0.55 WHIP is what really jumps out on his statistics page.
Cosgrove has made his presence known to opposing batters thus far and has proven he deserves more chances out of the bullpen.
RP Tim Hill has one of the more interesting stats lines you’ll see. In May he sits with a K/9 rate of just 3.1 through 8.2 innings pitched. Despite the low strikeout numbers, he had an ERA of 2.08 and a WHIP at 0.81. Following an uncharacteristically poor outing Thurday, those numbers ballooned to 5.19 and 1.154.
His overall success could be attributed to 85% of balls in play being either ground balls or fly balls. Not many people are making solid contact against Hill.
Josh Hader Rounds Out the Padres Bullpen
Of course, an article can’t be written about Padres pitching without CP Josh Hader.
Hader has gained only three saves this month but that could mostly be attributed to poor offensive performances. Closers on losing teams naturally get fewer chances to record saves since they have late-inning leads less often.
This month, he has eight innings pitched while notching a 1.13 ERA. As with the rest of the bullpen, he has allowed a low opponent batting average of .111. As is historically the case, he has kept up the strikeout pace with a high K/9 of 13.5.
The Padres are still struggling to find their footing, but some pleasant surprises in the pitching staff are getting them back on track.