Paddack stung by Sox in shortest career start

Rookie allows 6 runs in 2 1/3 innings; 'This is where I have to learn'

August 24th, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- This is uncharted territory for . Pitching deep into August, the Padres' rookie right-hander has thrown 117 1/3 innings and made 22 starts. He had never come close to either of those marks at any level, mostly because he missed the 2017 season following Tommy John surgery.

When he cracked the Opening Day rotation this spring, Paddack hadn't even reached 200 Minor League innings. So the Padres devised a plan to monitor his workload as his rookie season progressed. Where does that plan stand now, after the worst start of Paddack's professional career? That's anyone's guess.

The Padres lost, 11-0, to the Red Sox on Friday, equaling their most lopsided defeat of the season. Paddack surrendered three runs in the first, three more in the second, and he didn't make it through the third.

"Embarrassment for me, you know," Paddack said. "Packed house, I finally get to pitch on a Friday night, family was in town. It was just frustrating, mentally."

Over 2 1/3 innings -- Paddack's shortest outing since his first game in Rookie ball -- he allowed six runs on seven hits and a walk. For the first time in his pro career, he didn't record a strikeout. Lately, Paddack's changeup hasn't been the elite swing-and-miss offering it was earlier this season. His fastball has been entirely too hittable, as well.

Of course, Paddack set a high bar. He burst onto the scene as a brash and dominant rookie, earning the nickname "The Sheriff" as an ode to his Texas roots and his no-nonsense demeanor. For Players' Weekend, he donned "Sheriff" on his uniform.

These days, he isn't quite so authoritative. As recently as a month ago -- 17 starts into his big league career -- Paddack's ERA sat at 2.84. That mark has risen by a full run.

"This is where I have to learn," Paddack said. "First time in my career, I'm getting my teeth knocked in a little bit. I have to get back to my humble self, remember what got me here. ... I'm facing another big league team, another big league lineup in six days."

Tentatively, that's the plan: Paddack's season will continue as scheduled.

Earlier this year when he fell into a (much less pronounced) slump, the club sent him to the Minors for a 10-day rest break. But manager Andy Green seemed to indicate there wasn't an immediate urge to halt Paddack's season this time.

"That's not where my head is," Green said. "Get him back on the bump, attack again, overcome. Obviously if there's something going on, that would change my mind quickly. But I think health-wise, he feels good."

Of course, there's also the question of how much more gas Paddack has in the tank. He threw only 90 innings last year in his first season back from Tommy John. The Padres have been explicit in their desire to limit his workload this year, but they haven't revealed an innings limit.

Whatever the limit, Paddack isn't quite there yet. He almost certainly has a few more starts to make in 2019. If the Padres want to turn Paddack loose as a full-time workhorse next year, he'll need to build a base that's higher than his current workload.

"Body feels great," Paddack said. "That was the main priority going into the season: Stay healthy and show them I can throw more than 130 innings. ... I think I've done a pretty good job of that. But it's just been frustrating, man, these past four starts."

Indeed, the August version of Paddack has hardly resembled the fiery, in-your-face edition from April. If he wants to write a different ending to his rookie season, he might be running out of time.