San Diego Fills the Gaps
In August, the San Diego Padres had several weaknesses that desperately needed fixing before the trade deadline on August 31st. They needed a frontline starting pitcher, a stronger catcher, and consistent relief pitching to boost their chances of making a serious playoff run.
Now it’s September, and those three weak links were addressed in a matter of 72 hours. The Padres added starter Mike Clevinger, catcher Austin Nola, and reliever Trevor Rosenthal to their roster. Considering this team may be the most exciting team in baseball, this crew could bring even more electricity to the Padres clubhouse. Unsure of who these guys even are? Read a bit about them and what they bring to sunny San Diego.
1. Mike Clevinger- Starting Pitcher, Signed Through 2022
Mike Clevinger is the starter the Padres have been vying for all these years. He’s ranked sixth in the league and second among American League starters since 2017 in ERA. With a rotation that struggled to find its rhythm in the past, Clevinger should be the clear ace moving forward.
Not only can he throw hard, but he can also rock serious flow. He’s nicknamed “Sunshine” after Ronald Bass’s long-haired hippie look in Remember the Titans. His luscious locks may even make Tim Lincecum’s haircut look weak. Sunshine also sports customized Jimi Hendrix cleats and colorful tattoos cover his arms. The MLB even outlawed his bright aqua-colored glove last season because it was a distraction to the batters. This guy’s got style, and he’s not afraid to express himself.
“If there’s one thing I can bring to the field, it’s a lot of energy,” Clevinger said. “And this team’s got a bunch of it, so I have a good feeling I’m gonna fit in.”
2. Austin Nola- Starting Catcher, Signed Through 2025
Austin Nola already made an impact on the Padres lineup as the starting backstop in the final game of the series against the Colorado Rockies on Sunday, August 31st. He caught a 6-0 shutout to cap off the series win.
Because the Padres had just faced Nola’s former team, the Seattle Mariners, last week he said knowing their pitches and pitcher’s spots gave him an advantage during his debut. He also captured his first hit in a Friar’s uniform with a single to left field.
The offensive production from the catchers in San Diego has been rather slim. Nola’s .833 OPS this season is almost 300 points higher than their previous catcher Austin Hedges. It also ranks first in all-time totals in Padres history. Finally, a catcher who can hit.
Nola’s versatility and resilience also add to his character. He grew up with baseball at the center of his universe, going to countless Louisiana State University (LSU) games with his brother. After playing shortstop for LSU, he persevered through eight minor league seasons before finally earning a spot in the big leagues in 2019.
He played first, second and third base as well as both corners of the outfield for Seattle. Even though he’ll get the majority of his starts as the primary catcher, San Diego could utilize him in more ways than just behind home plate.
“The energy here is phenomenal,” Nola said in a post-game interview. “We’ve got tons of talent. I’m excited just to be a part of it and help us in any way.”
3. Trevor Rosenthal- Reliever, Signed Through 2020
Perhaps the most relieving (no pun intended) move for the Padres during the trade deadline was acquiring Trevor Rosenthal from the Kansas City Royals. The Padres relief corp has barely skated through late innings all season long. With Drew Pomeranz and Kirby Yates both out with injuries, their back-end pitchers are pushing their breaking points.
Rosenthal’s 3.29 ERA and his 0.69 ERA in four postseasons could fill this hole. He’s got a wicked fastball and already made a strong debut in his ninth-inning debut against the Rockies on Sunday.
However, Rosenthal’s career hasn’t always been so rosy. Last year, he pitched for the Washington Nationals and became the first pitcher in history that needed five appearances just to record a single out. He recorded a 13.50 ERA with the Detroit Tigers in the same year, going 0-1 in 22 appearances. This is almost unrecognizable from his performance in 2013 with the St. Louis Cardinals when he helped the Birds get to the World Series.
Even though Rosenthal has had his fair share of ups and downs, he has 128 saves and a 3.45 ERA over eight seasons in the Majors. Despite his short contract with the Pads, his ability to secure tougher outs late in games could be huge for this bullpen.
“Looking forward to the fun ahead with these guys,” Rosenthal tweeted. “West coast never lets me down!”
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