Inbox: Six-man rotation for Padres next year?

Beat reporter AJ Cassavell answers questions from San Diego fans

August 5th, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- In the wake of last week's Trade Deadline, there were plenty of questions asked about the Padres' outfield picture.

What are the team's plans now that is in Cleveland and is at Double-A Amarillo? Well, you can find the short-term outlook here, and the long-term view here.

As for your other Padres-related questions:

Do you see a six-man rotation as a possibility next year? It would protect and , ease MacKenzie Gore into the Majors and continue the growth of .
-- @porkapooloza

The Padres have essentially used a six-man rotation all season. They've reduced it to five on occasion, but only when off-days have allowed for young pitchers like Paddack to receive an extra day of rest.

It's reasonable to envision something similar next year. Lamet and Richards will be pitching in their first full season since Tommy John surgery, and Gore, the team's top prospect, should be on a progression similar to Paddack.

But I suspect the Padres won't be as rigid in 2020, when they'll consider themselves serious playoff contenders. They're clearly a better team if Paddack is pitching more frequently. Plus, it still seems likely they add a front-line arm this offseason. The same thought would hold true for, say, .

The Padres will continue to protect their young pitchers, and they'll probably tinker with the rotation to get Gore and Lamet extra rest here and there. But I wouldn't expect the strict every-six-days progression they've been using this season.

Will the Padres be pulling the plug early on Paddack's season?
-- @ETinCA

The Padres have been extremely tight-lipped regarding Paddack's progression this year. When he was sent to the Minors for a 10-day break in mid-June, it came as a surprise. If (when?) he's shut down, I suspect it'll come as a surprise again.

The club purposely hasn't set a public innings limit on Paddack, who has thrown 104 1/3 thus far after only 90 in the Minors last season. Paddack has said he'd like to finish between 130-150, but that isn't up to him.

Right now, Paddack is on pace for 150 innings, which would be 67 percent more than last season. Those are high-stress innings against big league hitters, too. It's unlikely the Padres let that total get that high. Whether they shut him down in mid-September or assign him to another rest stint remains to be seen.

Is manager Andy Green on the hot seat?
-- @friarfaithful89

Green's late-game tactics came under some fire last week after the Padres dropped consecutive games in which his late-game bullpen decisions came back to bite him. On Friday, general manager A.J. Preller took to the airwaves to defend Green's thinking.

"Those are questions that, every single night, you can sit back as an armchair quarterback and say, 'I would do this, I would do that,'" Preller told 97.3 the Fan. "... If it doesn’t work, it’s easy to second guess. Andy’s very prepared, as far as the in-game strategy. He’s as prepared as any manager I’ve been around in terms of seeing matchups, seeing what’s out in front, understanding the game situations, being ready.”

Preller later added: "In that chair, there’s a lot that goes into it. The in-game strategy is definitely a part of it. But there’s so much more we’re looking at from what Andy brings to the table. ... That part, I don’t worry about at all with Andy. He’s usually really prepared. That part, I think we have an advantage going into ballgames with him as our manager."

The external frustration with some of Green's decisions doesn't match the organization's internal feelings. That's partly because Green is almost certainly working with instructions from the front office regarding the use of his pitchers.

That said, Green is in his fourth season at the helm, and he's yet to post a winning record. The Padres have fallen a season-low nine games below .500 despite an undoubted uptick in talent this year. At some point before next season, Padres brass will sit down and evaluate whether Green is the right man to lead this group into its contention window.

Green's seat isn't necessarily hot. But it's warm at the very least. He could be managing for his job down the stretch.

How long do the Padres plan to carry three second basemen?
-- @alexbartlett12

The Trade Deadline always seemed like a reasonable guess. Sure, why not keep both and around, leaving some cover in the event one of them was traded? But the Deadline is now in the past, and Kinsler seems a bit redundant -- not to mention the fact that he's posted a .217/.278/.358 slash line this year.

With Reyes in Cleveland and playing regularly, the Padres' bench has taken a hit. The most regular bench probably consists of Kinsler, , and -- none of whom inspire much fear as hitters. There's an easy argument to be made for 's right-handed power or the speed-and-defense threat of outfielder .

But that would require cutting ties with Kinsler, who signed a two-year deal worth $8 million during the offseason. When Kinsler signed that deal, the Padres envisioned a utility role in which he might play some third base. That was before they'd begun kicking the tires on .

Since then, Garcia has proven himself a perfect utility option, and there probably isn't room for a third second baseman after him. It's possible the Padres are waiting for Urias to assert himself as their clear everyday second baseman. (He's hitting only .113 this year.) But barring an injury, it's hard to see what role Kinsler currently fills on the roster.