Weathers goes 3 IP in return to rotation

August 29th, 2021

ANAHEIM -- It was only a month ago that the Padres were toiling in their search for starting pitching ahead of the Trade Deadline. When the prices rose too high for their liking, they passed. The consequences of that decision, at the time, were unclear.

Right now, they seem very clear.

The Padres emerged from Anaheim with only a split against the struggling Angels. They followed Joe Musgrove’s shutout in the opener with a demoralizing 10-2 defeat on Saturday night at Angel Stadium.

“It’s frustrating,” said Padres manager Jayce Tingler. “I was hoping that after last night’s outing with Joe and getting some momentum, that we’d be able to get rolling a little bit.”

Whatever momentum they had quickly came to a screeching halt. Left-hander was removed after only three innings and 54 pitches as his struggles continued. He allowed three runs on a pair of home runs and has now surrendered 11 homers in his last 20 2/3 innings.

At some point, it's fair to wonder how much of Weathers' struggles should be placed on Weathers himself. The 21-year-old rookie is in a dreadful funk, having posted a 13.50 ERA over his past six outings. It’s worth noting that he’s pitching deep into August for the first time in his career and he hasn't been nearly the same pitcher since returning from an ankle fracture in late July.

If the Padres had a different measure of pitching depth, it seems unlikely Weathers would be starting some of the team’s biggest games of the season. Perhaps he’d be in the bullpen. Perhaps he’d be working through some kinks at Triple-A.

Instead, with the Padres presented an opportunity to climb within a game of the Reds in the race for the second National League Wild Card spot, they handed the ball to Weathers -- and found themselves behind by three runs after three.

Sensing the urgency of the moment, Tingler dipped into his bullpen after RBI singles from Eric Hosmer and Austin Nola brought the Padres within one run.

That typically reliable bullpen wasn't up for the task. Pierce Johnson and Austin Adams, two of the Padres' most dependable arms, allowed two runs apiece. Tim Hill's recent struggles continued, as well. He surrendered three runs in one-third of an inning, as the Angels put the game out of reach.

“We just couldn’t get zeros on the board,” Tingler said. “I felt good after we got back into it, got it to 3-2, in the fourth. … We couldn’t stop them.”

Once the Angels widened the gap again, the Padres’ bats fell flat. They’ve now dropped 13 of 16 games, during which they’ve scored more than five runs only once. They’ve scored three runs or fewer in 10 of those games.

As for Weathers, it seems like his time in the rotation might be up. The Padres can ill afford to continue to allow him to work through his growing pains in the middle of a fierce NL Wild Card race.

The Padres are finally getting healthy, with Yu Darvish having returned from the injured list on Thursday and Chris Paddack expected to do the same for Monday’s opener in Arizona. Jake Arrieta could be back soon, as well.

Throw in four off-days in the next 12, and what, exactly, does that all mean for Weathers’ status in the rotation?

Said Tingler, cryptically: “It’s the thing we’ve got to discuss, for sure, on how we want to move forward if we can get those guys back and healthy.”