Mazur dazzles in debut, still not enough vs. Angels

June 5th, 2024

ANAHEIM -- The Padres need starting pitching. On that front, it figures to be an eventful couple of months. They'll spend plenty of time exploring the trade market. They'll also do everything possible to get Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove healthy.

But in the meantime -- in the very present meantime -- there was an opportunity available in a San Diego rotation that's been hit by injuries. On Tuesday night in Anaheim, did his best to seize that opportunity.

Making his big league debut, Mazur, the No. 5 prospect in the San Diego system per MLB Pipeline, pitched six innings of one-run ball while allowing only two hits in San Diego's 4-2 loss to the Angels at Angel Stadium.

"Just getting through the nerves," Mazur said. "You only get one of these, and the first couple innings you can definitely feel it. But I just kind of settled in and went back to my attack plan."

Mazur gave the Padres everything they could've asked for -- as did Matt Waldron and Michael King the previous two days. Despite at least six innings and only one run from each of those starters, San Diego found a way to lose all three games, let down by its bats and its bullpen.

"Super frustrating," said Padres manager Mike Shildt. "King … gets into the seventh; we had Waldy into the seventh last night, and Mazur gives us six solid tonight. All one run. That's what the name of the game is -- starting pitching and eating up innings. Those guys have done more than their part to give us a chance."

It marked the first time in franchise history that the Padres had lost three straight games in which their starter worked at least six innings while allowing one run or fewer -- an utterly maddening way to drop back to .500.

Then again, in the current National League, being .500 in early June is hardly disqualifying -- quite the opposite. The Padres currently hold the second Wild Card spot in a jumbled NL playoff picture.

All the more reason to be aggressive in their pursuit of starting pitching. On Tuesday, The Athletic reported the team's interest in White Sox left-hander Garrett Crochet. A source confirmed the Padres are searching for starting pitching and Crochet is among the arms they've considered. No further details were offered.

With Musgrove (right elbow) and Darvish (left groin) on the injured list, San Diego has two vacancies. King and Dylan Cease currently sit atop their rotation.

But starting pitching can be fickle. The Padres are optimistic Darvish's absence won't be an extended one. They're hopeful a second recurrence of Joe Musgrove's elbow issue won't spell disaster. Still, it's best to have options.

Eventually, that may come in the form of a trade. For now, it's Randy Vásquez and Mazur filling in. With his strong showing on Tuesday, Mazur almost certainly earned himself another look.

"The game just ended, and we'll process that," Shildt said. "But he clearly did his part to get another start."

Mazur wouldn't mind staying.

"It's definitely a feeling you want to have over and over and over again," he said. "You don't ever want to go back to anywhere else. It's a lot of fun up here."

A second-round pick out of the University of Iowa in 2022, Mazur's best trait in the Minors was always his pinpoint command. He wasn't so pinpoint on Tuesday, walking four hitters. But, another trait the Padres have prized in Mazur shined through. He worked around trouble all night, unfazed.

"I would've liked to have been in the zone more, attacked with the fastball a little bit better," Mazur said. "But excited with how I battled out of it."

After a slow start to the season, Manny Machado is hitting .356 across his current 13-game on-base streak. He drove in a run on a 3-for-4 night. But the Angels plated their only run off Mazur in the bottom of the frame on Luis Rengifo's RBI single.

Upon Mazur's departure, Yuki Matsui allowed three straight batters to reach in the seventh -- and, sure enough, three runs scored in the frame, two on Zach Neto's go-ahead double. It was an anticlimactic finish after a strong debut from one of the Padres' most exciting prospects.

"Mazur was fantastic," Shildt said. "You can't ask for much more."