The Padres added a few arms to their pitching staff via free agency in the offseason, signing SP Josh Johnson and RP Joaquin Benoit. Benoit will be the 8th inning guy for San Diego, while Johnson will slide into the top of the starting rotation if he can stay healthy, which was something he couldn’t do in 2013. Even though they play in the pitcher friendly Petco Park, they finished 19th in MLB in ERA (3.98) and 23rd in WHIP (1.33) last season.
Ian Kennedy – Kennedy probably overachieved his skill set in 2011 when he went 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA. His value has been on a negative progression over the last 2 seasons. While his command (3.6) took a huge step backwards, his K rate (8.1) stayed intact. However, HR’s (1.3 per 9) have been a problem over the last 2 years. He pitched a little better with the Padres (4.34 ERA) after a late July trade, but he walked 18 batters in his first 5 starts with San Diego (29.7 innings – 5.4 walk rate). In September, Ian threw more strikes (7 walks in 28.7 innings – 2.2 walk rate), which led to 4 quality starts. His AFB (90.3) was in line with his 2011 season, and his changeup is his #2 pitch, followed by a curveball and a cutter. His biggest failure was against LH batters (.265 with 19 HR’s allowed in 340 at bats – .500 SLG %), but his command against righties has also regressed. Overall, his stuff has lost value across the board due to his inability to throws strikes. His home park gives him a big edge and he had a 2.81 ERA in 5 starts in San Diego after the trade (7-2 in his career with 2.41 ERA and 90 K’s in 71 innings). Solid backend gamble – 3.75 ERA with 13+ wins and 170+ K’s.
Huston Street – Street struggled with HR’s (12) in 2013, but he converted 33 of 35 saves. He missed a couple of weeks in June with a calf injury. His walk rate (2.2) was in line with his career resume, but his K rate (7.3) was a huge step back from 2012 (10.8) and was below his career average (9.0). Huston had success against both RH (.217) and LH (.208) batters. While Street had a 4.61 ERA over the first 3 months, he allowed 10 HR’s over his first 27.3 innings. Over the last 3 months, Huston pitched at an elite level (0.92 ERA with 31 K’s in 29.3 innings). His AFB (89.4) was slightly higher than 2012 (89.0 – career low). Furthermore, his slider is still his #2 pitch, followed by a changeup. His velocity was up across the board over the last 3 months of the year. Street has 234 career saves, but his skill set is on the decline and he will have some competition from Benoit for saves in 2014. He had a 30 game stretch from late June until last September where he only allowed 1 runs in 30.3 innings. His 2nd half success and his resume give him the best chance to get saves in San Diego. Street is a steady option for saves, but he can’t match the front talent in K’s.