Evaluating the Padres' 10 rotation candidates

March 14th, 2019

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Starting Wednesday, the Padres have three trips through their spring rotation remaining before the season begins with a March 28 showdown against the Giants.

San Diego entered camp with 12 pitchers in the mix, and thus far, only two have been ruled out. Luis Perdomo is being looked at solely as a reliever, and Brett Kennedy remains on the shelf with arm fatigue.

"It's nothing that I’ve been around to have this many young arms vying for, effectively, all five spots in the rotation right now," Padres manager Andy Green said.

Assuming all these pitchers remain healthy -- no small assumption at this point in the spring, when hurlers begin to ramp up their workloads -- here's a look at all 10 candidates and their chances of making the "wide-open" starting five.

Rotation chances: 100 percent

What he's done: Lucchesi's been solid this spring, allowing three runs on seven hits over nine innings. On those three runs, he's had some bad luck as well. The 25-year-old left-hander has picked up where he left off after a solid rookie campaign.

What he'll need to do: Stay healthy. There's no obvious scenario in which a healthy Lucchesi is left off the Opening Day squad.

Rotation chances: 95 percent

What he's done: In the public eye, not a whole lot. With the Padres giving opportunities to their prospects, Lauer's last two outings have come in backfield games. He's only made one start this spring, in which he pitched two scoreless innings.

What he'll need to do: Because there's been so little game action on which to judge Lauer, it's hard to give him 100-percent billing. But the 23-year-old has more or less locked up a place after his promising rookie campaign.

Rotation chances: 80 percent

What he's done: Paddack leads all pitchers in Spring Training with 20 strikeouts over 12 2/3 innings, while posting a 2.13 ERA. Perhaps most importantly, he's proven that his stuff plays against big league hitters, even though he's spent barely half a season at Double-A.

What he'll need to do: Keep pitching like he has. The 23-year-old right-hander will have his innings monitored this season. Even though he’s lined up for a potential historic Opening Day start, the Padres could still alter the order of their starters. But Paddack, MLB Pipeline’s No. 34 overall prospect, is leaving little doubt that he's one of the Padres' five best starting options.

Rotation chances: 70 percent

What he's done: Strahm's been the Padres' best pitcher this spring, having thrown nine scoreless innings in which he's struck out 12 hitters. Thus far, his transition to the rotation has been seamless. Strahm's four innings against the Reds marked the first time he'd hit that mark since before his July 2017 knee surgery.

What he'll need to do: Despite his dominance, Strahm isn't quite a lock like Lauer and Lucchesi. He spent nearly the entire 2018 campaign in the bullpen, and his workload will continue to grow over the next few weeks. If he proves he can handle it, he'll be one of the first five pitchers to start for the Padres this season.

Rotation chances: 50 percent

What he's done: Erlin posted a 6.23 ERA in two early spring outings, but he looked sharp in four backfield innings last week. The elder statesman of the group, Erlin has yet to make a Cactus League start, but he'll get his first opportunity Thursday.

What he'll need to do: Erlin's place on the roster probably won't come down to Erlin himself. The Padres already know what they have in the 28-year-old left-hander. If no one else makes a strong claim to the final rotation spot, Erlin is a perfectly viable option. Otherwise, he's a versatile bullpen piece.

Rotation chances: 45 percent

What he's done: In three starts, Nix has allowed four runs over 6 2/3 innings. Perhaps most concerning: he's walked six and only whiffed four. Nix pitched one inning against Oakland on Tuesday before the game was called due to rain. He retreated to the Peoria Sports Complex batting cages for three simulated innings.

What he'll need to do: Limit the walks, up the strikeouts. Throughout his Minors career, Nix has been adept at pitching to contact. But if he's not capable of putting hitters away, he's a fringe big leaguer at best.

Rotation chances: 30 percent

What he's done: After a solid showing in his first two outings, Allen put forth a dud on Sunday. He hadn't allowed a run, but he gave up six against Kansas City. Allen was also slowed earlier this spring when he took a liner off his thigh, forcing an early exit from his second start.

What he'll need to do: The 21-year-old lefty has posted excellent numbers at every level, and the Padres think very highly of him. There's an obvious place available in the rotation for Allen if he can win it. Now, it’s a matter of whether he can bounce back. During his Wednesday media session, Green spoke generally about the rotation race, but he might as well have been talking straight to Allen at one point.

“You don’t want to read too much into one outing a guy has and say he’s out of the competition,” Green said. “It’s just not right. … When you watch young guys compete for spots, you don’t want to overreact to one outing that has bad numbers associated with it. You look at the whole body of work, who they are, the presence they bring to the mound, the stuff they bring to the mound. You weigh all those things.”

Rotation chances: 20 percent

What he's done: Nothing to prove himself worthy of a place in the rotation. Mitchell has yet to build on his solid September last season, and he owns a 7.71 ERA with eight walks in seven innings.

What he'll need to do: Mitchell started the spring squarely on the rotation bubble. Now, he's got ground to make up, and he probably only has an appearance or two left to do so.

Rotation chances: 5 percent

What he's done: Quantrill's first outing of the spring was a rough one, but he's bounced back rather nicely. In three starts, Quantrill owns a 3.38 ERA, though his peripheral numbers aren't great.

What he'll need to do: Quantrill finished strong last season at Triple-A El Paso, and he's almost certainly destined to start his 2019 campaign there. But with a big finish this spring, Quantrill could put his name in the mix to be one of the first callups when a rotation place becomes available midseason.

Rotation chances: 5 percent

What he's done: Perhaps no player has put his name on the map more than Margevicius. A 22-year-old seventh-round selection out of Rider University in 2017, Margevicius has been tested against some legit big league lineups, and he's held his own, allowing four runs in eight innings while striking out nine.

What he'll need to do: It's difficult to envision a place for Margevicius in the rotation, especially considering he hasn't pitched an inning above Class A Advanced. But the Padres pushed young lefties Lucchesi and Lauer quickly last year. If Margevicius builds off his strong spring, he could impact the big league club later this season.