Pitchers and catchers reported to Peoria, Arizona this week as the San Diego Padres open up their spring training facility in the desert. One announcement in previous years that would come well into March under previous managerial administrations surprisingly came to fruition today.

Padres manager Andy Green announced Friday that Tyson Ross has been named the Opening Day starter. For one thing, Ross has earned it. The pitching staff last season had a mediocre year to say the least.

Ross was the one starter who pitched consistently across the season only allowing more than 4.55 ERA in the month of April. For the rest of the season, his ERA stayed between 2.81 and 3.19.

Ross also allowed the least home runs of the Padres starters who made at least 20 starts, giving up just nine home runs in 33 starts last season. An All-Star in 2014, his emergence came under the radar after he posted very strong numbers (13-14, 2.81 ERA in 195.2 innings pitched).

In fact, Fangraphs wrote a very intriguing article during that year about the rise of Ross and the outlook on him as a pitcher.

If he can put up these rock-solid numbers as the ace of the staff, he could be well on his way to pitching under the lights in San Diego during the All-Star Game. The two things that Ross needs to get across this season: walks and his offense behind him. One, he walked nearly four batters per nine innings last season. It is a bit high for an ace-caliber pitcher. At times he seems to lose control (particularly on the road), while at times he looks like a potential Cy Young candidate.

Speaking of that, I think Ross is one of the dark horse candidates for the Cy Young this season. I know, a lot of things need to go right: a team that is not a favorite to compete would need to likely contend for him to get any consideration. Furthermore, he needs to show he can go more than six innings in a start and pitch into the 7th or 8th innings most starts.

Also, his offense needs to back him with run support. Over the past two seasons, he’s just 23-26. Yes, wins aren’t a huge factor but rarely does a pitcher without an “impressive” win-loss record get awarded with the Cy Young. The only starter to win the Cy Young award since the year 2000 without an “impressive” record was Felix Hernandez (2010) who went 13-12.

He had been in my mind to be the front runner for the Opening Day starter gig since I began looking at the roster and its potential 2016 rotation late last year. Ross has earned it, and his acquisition was one of the best the organization has made since the 2012 offseason.

Friar Notes

  • Both the Padres and the Baltimore Orioles had discussions this offseason regarding James Shields, Andrew Cashner, and Matt Kemp, writes Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports. The Orioles had been in the market for starting pitching and a potential designated hitter. As of now, they look as though they have filled those needs. Cashner’s name is someone that could be a trade chip the team uses come July if the team is in fact out of the race.
  • The club is among many teams that had an organizational present at Cuban outfielder Alexei Bell‘s showcase in Mexico this week, tweets Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. The 30-year-old was a veteran on Cuba’s national team during the Olympics. He is an intriguing piece any club would want to add who could likely help a club this season.

Friar Moves

  • The club invited 19 players who are not on the 40 man roster to big league camp, per a team announcement. Among them, infielder Nick Noonan (1st round, San Francisco Giants, 2007) is one signing that had not been previously reported. Noonan has had a few short stints in previous seasons with the Giants and didn’t produce. He’s done much better in the minor leagues, hitting a career .262/.316/.366 with the Giants organization and for a short time in the New York Yankees organization.
  • The team has signed right hand pitcher Greg Reynolds (1st round, Colorado Rockies, 2006) to a minor-league deal, tweets Matt Eddy of Baseball America. He pitched in Japan last season.

About The Author

Justin covers the San Diego Padres on @Padresindepth on Twitter. He writes for his own blog, called Inside the Friars, which can be found @InsideTheFriars on Twitter. He's been writing for Baseball Essential since September 2014.

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