Perdomo's rough return raises future questions

Right-hander's struggles could lead to Triple-A stint

April 19th, 2018

SAN DIEGO -- Over three big league seasons, has 324 innings and 53 starts to his name, but he's never thrown a pitch at any upper level of the Minors.
Evidently, the early returns from his 2018 season will prompt discussions in the Padres' front office as to whether a move to Triple-A El Paso might be best for his development.
In Wednesday's finale of a three-game sweep at the hands of the rival Dodgers, Perdomo was knocked around for nine runs (seven earned) over three innings in the worst start of his young career. The Padres lost, 13-4, calling upon their resilient yet beleaguered bullpen once again. For the fifth time in seven days, they asked for at least six innings out of their relievers.
That stretch began a week ago in Colorado, when Perdomo was ejected for throwing behind and sparking a benches-clearing kerfuffle. Even without that game, Perdomo has averaged four innings per start this season. His ERA shot to 8.36 on Wednesday night, as he returned from his five-game suspension.
On Wednesday, both Perdomo and manager Andy Green were asked whether the suspension and hoopla surrounding it affected Perdomo's performance.
"Whether it did or it didn't, it can't," Green said. "This is Major League Baseball. You've got to pitch better than that."
Said Perdomo: "I don't want to put any excuse on it. I just have to keep working hard, take advantage of the opportunity and come back and get that rhythm."
That big league opportunity is far from a guarantee. The Padres are unwavering in their belief in Perdomo; they have been since they swiped his rights from the Cardinals in the 2015 Rule 5 Draft.
Thing is, Perdomo's status as a Rule 5 player prevented further Minor League development. Perdomo was an A-ball starter one year. He was in the Padres' rotation the next, and he's managed to stay afloat in that role ever since.
"We've done a lot to try to give him every opportunity to be successful at this level, and he's given effort, man," Green said. "He cares. He's doing everything he possibly can. He's working hard. It's just not happening, and at some point in time, we've got to re-evaluate the situation, try to figure out what's best for us."
Perdomo's next start could very well come with Triple-A El Paso. Should the Padres decide on that, the move could come in short order with reliever and outfielder due back from the disabled list. (They wouldn't need a starter until Tuesday in Colorado.)
Fans have clamored for No. 13 prospect Eric Lauer, who has a 3.00 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning with Triple-A El Paso this season. That's a distinct possibility. Another is fellow southpaw Robbie Erlin, who took Perdomo's place while he was suspended but has spent the rest of the year in the bullpen.
"We've been talking about a competitive culture all through Spring Training, all the way into the season," Green said. "We intend to give guys opportunities that are rising up and taking advantage, like Joey Lucchesi, guys that are showing well. We have a number of young guys that we like in the organization. I'm sure the conversation will be forthcoming here soon as to what's our best move."
No help for the weary: Perdomo found himself in instant trouble on Wednesday night when he put three of four men on base to start the game. The next batter, Matt Kemp, bounced a weak chopper to third base, where it was fielded by . At the plate, Villanueva has been red-hot, and he reached base three more times on Wednesday. But he's slumped defensively. His throw skipped away, and two runs scored on the play, giving the Dodgers an early 3-0 lead.

Hard contact: The Padres clawed two runs back in the bottom of the second inning, but Perdomo couldn't hold Los Angeles in check. The first five batters he faced in the third all reached base via hits with exit velocities of 95 mph or harder. The last of those five hits was a three-run homer from , which gave the Dodgers a 9-2 lead.
"There wasn't a sink to the fastball," Green said. "The stuff that usually gets hit on the ground was getting hit to the gaps."
Evidently, Villanueva has a penchant for being plunked. He took a 93 mph fastball off his left hand in the top of the fifth inning. Villanueva remained in the game for a couple frames, before he was double switched out of the lineup.
Postgame X-rays were negative on Villanueva, and he expects to be in the lineup on Friday. In the meantime, Green said he'd be discussing wrist protection for Villanueva, whose first step inward exposes his hands over the inside of the batter's box. He has been hit by four pitches this season. Only has more.
"I was talking about [a pad on the hand] pretty recently with the training staff when they were looking at me," Villanueva said. "I'm thinking a glove with some sort of protection."
"I'm always pitching for [my job]. Things didn't go well in the game. All I can do is go out there and keep working." -- Perdomo
While the rest of baseball has dealt with weather-related postponements over the past three weeks, the Padres mercifully conclude their stretch of 17 games in 17 days with an extremely taxed bullpen. After an off-day Thursday, they open a three-game series in Arizona on Friday, with on the mound. It's possible Myers (nerve irritation in his right arm) will return from injury.