-- RHP, Padres
Key number: .204 BA allowed on fastballs in 2019
As a rookie in 2019, Paddack backed up his swagger with results, posting a 3.33 ERA over 26 starts, despite his limited repertoire. (He threw about 90% four-seamers and changeups, with an occasional curveball that didn’t miss many bats). Paddack tried to diversify in ‘20, introducing a cutter, but the pitch was unsuccessful. At the same time, his four-seamer suffered, losing its vertical movement (“rise”) as Paddack was unable to command it at the top of the zone with the same efficiency. In 2019, opponents hit .204 and slugged .391 against the four-seamer; in ‘20, that rose to .308/.658, with a 3.4 mph jump in average exit velocity.
In the span of a year, Paddack has gone from the Padres’ Opening Day starter to something of an afterthought behind three new acquisitions (Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove), a 2020 Cy Young contender (Dinelson Lamet) and even rising top prospects such as Mackenzie Gore. But there’s still a lot to like about the ultra-competitive Paddack, who even last year boasted one of the lowest walk rates in MLB. If the 25-year-old finally finds that third pitch, the results could be spectacular, but even just rediscovering his four-seamer
command would work wonders.
Last year’s sprint wasn’t kind to anyone who got off-kilter with the start-and-stop offseason, or busted slowly out of the gates when play began. It wasn't kind to evaluators, either, who are trying to piece together a myriad of narratives, injury returns and small sample sizes to guess who will