With Morejon on IL, who will face Dodgers?

Rotation shuffle could impact looming rivalry series at Petco Park

April 12th, 2021

The Padres, as expected, placed left-hander on the 10-day injured list Monday with a left forearm strain, then set their rotation for the four-game series in Pittsburgh -- keeping no-hit hero and on schedule.

Those decisions create a vacancy in San Diego's rotation this weekend -- and, as you may have heard, there's a rather important series being played.

After their on-field fireworks last summer and their off-field fireworks over the winter, the Padres and Dodgers are set to square off for the first time in 2021 on Friday night at Petco Park.

"We're really not looking ahead," Padres manager Jayce Tingler said. "We're looking at Pittsburgh tonight. That's a team that [is] playing good baseball."

Tingler can be as Belichickian as he'd like. That certainly won't stop Padres fans from looking ahead to perhaps the most highly anticipated regular-season series in Petco Park history.

Los Angeles is likely to start Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw and Trevor Bauer -- in that order -- against the Padres. San Diego is in line to counter with on Saturday and on Sunday. That’s a whole lot of elite pitching talent on both sides. But the Padres’ starter on Friday night remains TBD.

"We're not ready to go there yet," Tingler said curtly, before adding that "everything is on the table."

Tingler certainly has no need to box himself into his Friday pitching plans on Monday afternoon. But when Morejon exited Sunday's start injured, the Padres appeared to have three primary options. Their decisions in the 24 hours since make two of them look unlikely:

Option No. 1
Lefty MacKenzie Gore, baseball's top pitching prospect, is built up to a full starter's workload at the alternate training site. But it doesn't seem like the team would ask Gore to make his big league debut in the first Padres-Dodgers game of the season -- especially when the alternative would have been a soft landing with a midweek game in Pittsburgh. San Diego could've easily pushed Musgrove's turn back, especially after he threw 112 pitches in his no-hitter. But Musgrove tossed a bullpen session Monday and reported feeling fine, so he will throw Wednesday on schedule.

Option No. 2
is building up slowly from the ulnar collateral ligament strain that forced him to miss the postseason last October. But he eclipsed 50 pitches in his last start at the alternate site and pitched into the fourth inning for the first time. On Sunday, Tingler said Lamet was "getting close," but on Monday he noted that Lamet would get at least one more start at the team's alt site. That start will come in the middle of this week, making it almost certain that Lamet would not be asked to pitch again on Friday.

So that leaves ...

Option No. 3
has served as the Padres' swingman this season, and they have said all along that they wouldn't rule out adding him to the rotation at some point.

Weathers, of course, made his debut against the Dodgers in the postseason last year, pitching scoreless ball across 1 1/3 innings and striking out Cody Bellinger. Weathers also faced them during Spring Training and had moderate success, though AJ Pollock roughed him up a bit.

Of course, it's entirely possible the Padres will decide against using Weathers in a traditional sense. He might be part of a bullpen day, or they could piggyback the left-hander with, say, Craig Stammen or Nabil Crismatt, who was recalled on Monday to take Morejon's place on the roster.

Whatever the answer, Tingler was clearly not yet ready to entertain the question.

"We've got stay in the present," Tingler said. "Right now, we're preparing for a long, hard-fought battle of four games with the Pirates."