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Paddack set to return, start Saturday

Padres' pitching staff to get rest with three off-days coming up
@AJCassavell
June 21, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres’ rotation will get its Sheriff back on Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh. Right-hander Chris Paddack -- who was optioned last week as a way to limit his workload in his rookie season -- is slated to be recalled for the middle game of the Padres’ three-game

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres’ rotation will get its Sheriff back on Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

Right-hander Chris Paddack -- who was optioned last week as a way to limit his workload in his rookie season -- is slated to be recalled for the middle game of the Padres’ three-game set against the Pirates, sources said. Eric Lauer started the opener, and Joey Lucchesi will pitch the finale.

Paddack didn’t throw a pitch in the Minor Leagues after being optioned to Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore. He threw 90 innings last season in his return from Tommy John surgery and was already three-quarters of the way to that mark this year.

In 12 big league starts, Paddack owns a 3.15 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning. After posting a sub-2.00 ERA through nine starts, Paddack scuffled a bit before his demotion. The Padres saw the timing as a perfect opportunity to allow the 23-year-old flamethrower to reset. His 10-day stint in the Minors is the minimum required before he could be recalled.

It's been a grueling nine days for the Padres' pitching staff. They knew that ahead of time, of course. But they probably couldn't have foreseen a record-setting four-game series in Colorado, which saw 92 runs scored and 25 1/3 innings eaten by Padres relievers.

The next eight days offer a different, less burdensome, challenge. The Padres head to Pittsburgh and Baltimore in the next week. They'll have an off-day before the trip begins, another off-day as they change cities and a third off-day before they return home.

That's eight days in which the Padres play only five games.

"It's a breather we could use," said Padres closer Kirby Yates.

The off-days will allow the Padres to use a different roster strategy than the one they've used for the majority of the season.

"We'll look at roster composition, try to decide if we need another bat during that time period," said manager Andy Green. "It's become a luxury in baseball to have five guys on the bench."

Green noted the way baseball has changed in the 10 years since he last played in the big leagues as a utility infielder.

"Now everybody has four guys on the bench because pitching gets run through so quickly," he said. "If that was the case, I would've probably never played in the big leagues. I was always that fifth guy on the bench."

If the Padres are looking to the Minors for a bat, it could mean a recall for Jose Pirela or Ty France. There's an outside chance it's No. 2 prospect Luis Urias. (Those three are the only realistic options available on the 40-man roster.)

But the team's pitching strategy over the next week is somewhat up in the air. Righty Cal Quantrill has moved into a hybrid bullpen/starter role. Either he or lefty Logan Allen could start Tuesday’s opener in Baltimore. It’s possible the Padres piggyback the two.

In any case, the Padres have done their best this season to avoid overtaxing the Major Leagues’ youngest rotation. Only four times this year has a starter pitched on four days of rest. Even during their recent nine-game grind, the Padres promoted and optioned a handful of young pitchers to keep their rotation fresh.

"We haven't been a normal pitching staff," said lefty Matt Strahm, who's yet to pitch on four days of rest this year. "We've got guys going in and out of spots. They've been protecting us all pretty well. The off-days are obviously going to help, but they've done a good job of keeping us fresh."

Another benefit of the off-days?

"We get more sleep," Green said.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.