There hasn’t been this type of excitement over a Padres rookie pitcher in a long time.
Chris Paddack has captured the fancy of this town, with his Cowboy hats, boots, long hair, his scowl, the emotion on his sleeve, and the crackling 97mph fastball he has displayed over his 7-starts.
We haven’t seen this type of electricity on the mound from a young pitching prospect like this in a long time, and Randy Jones, Cy Young Award winner and folk hero, was alot of fastballs ago.
Oh there have been some.
Jake Peavy might have been the last real ace on a staff as a rookie, and he gave San Diego a Cy Young Award season and a (92-68) record over 8-solid years,, before moving on to the White Sox-Red Sox and Giants. He went (152-126) in a warrior type career.
Mat Latos came too, home grown product, who flashed for a short time then seemed to wear out his welcome. He was (27-29) and a respectable (3.37-ERA) but flamed out. Onto Cincinnati for a couple of good seasons, then injuries robbed him of potential. He pitched for 8-teams in all.
Andy Benes was a high pick, and was (69-75) over a 7-year span, winning double digits 4-times before being traded to the Cardinals, where he had an 18-win season before injuries ended his career. He did win (155) games in all.
So Paddack comes to San Diego in a 2016-trade with the Miami Marlins, who wanted reliever Fernando Rodney.
The 6’4 flamethrower had been with the Marlins farm system for just 1-season. He arrived, pitched one year at the bottom of the Padres farm chain, and blew out his elbow.
He was dominating but hurting, and a year’s layoff, and Tommy John surgery solved all that.
He has never looked back since his re-emergence.
This scorecard does not lie. In 7-starts this rookie season, he is (3-1) with a 1.91-ERA. His latest accomplishment, matching zeroes with NY Mets ace and Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom.
No one was sure how fast he would arrive, caution always being the word used in the same sentence when his name was mentioned by GM-AJ Prellar. Caution in terms of pitch counts, innings pitched, and stressful innings.
Elbow surgery, and never having gone over 90-innings in any season, made you think they’d have to ‘baby’ him this first year in the majors. Not right now, for he appears to be the ‘man’ in the Padres rotation. Maybe the correct word so far is ‘ace’
Paddack was (16-7) with a 1.77-ERA in the minors. Astounding numbers, just like the innings (218) to strike-out (276) to walk ratio (30) as he roared thru the farm system.
You sit behind home plate, as I did for one start. You sit up in the press box, as I have for other starts, or you watch his road starts on TV, and you are awed.
Placement of pitches is so impressive. Controlling all four quadrants of the plate. The 97-mile an hour fastball. The array of off speed pitches, curves, changeups, sliders, that keep people off balance. The ball movement is wicked.
On Monday night, he struck out 9-of the first 15-retired in the Mets lineup. He wound up with 11-Ks in all. He had 24-first pitch strikes to the 28-batters he faced. He was always ahead in the county, the batters always behind the 8-ball with his fastball.
You talk to him in the clubhouse, and he is a mixed bag of respectful, confident, cooperative. Let him walk to the mound, and he is arrogant, aggressive, intense, full of bravado. He is pitching’s answer right now to Country-Western star Brad Paisley.
He talks the talk, then walks the walk, to the hill.
There are some pretty vibrant young pitchers other places in the majors right now. Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow come to mind in Tampa Bay. Walker Beuhler with the Dodgers.
But few modern day have captured the fancy of a city like this Cowboy.
Not since Fernando Valenzuala, ‘Fernandomania’ with the Dodgers,…or Mark ‘The Bird’ Fydrich-Detroit, have we seen such electricity on the mound.
Valenzuala was dominant for more than a decade. Fydrich burned out after 1-glorious year. It took Pedro Martinez awhile to find greatness. It took Bob Gisbon into his 3rd year to accomplish something.
Whitey Ford, and Don Newcombe were brilliant early at Yankees Stadium and in Brooklyn. So was Herb Score in Cleveland, way back in the day..
Chris Paddack seems to have virtually every component to be a star, all this after elbow surgery.
You’re only as good as your last start. His last seven for the Padres have been superb.
Cowboy hat night likely coming to Petco Park soon, especially on the nights Chris Paddack is on the mound.
This cowboy looks to be the ‘real deal’.