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Lefty Cory Luebke and the Padres rotation look for another solid season.
The Padres may be without a tall blonde kid, but they won't miss him much.
Mat Latos departed for Cincinnatti in December as the prize for the Reds, who sent four players to San Diego. The Padres received their starting first baseman, one of the best catching prospects in baseball, another stud prospect who has dynamite stuff, and a guy named Edinson Volquez.
Not only did the Padres get the Reds farm system, but also a virtual replacement for Latos. Volquez has pitched well in the past, but has been a victim of first inning control issues since. It also doesn't help that he played in Cincinnatti, where a routine fly ball somehow lands in the Ohio River. Getting into the hands of Black and Balsley will help iron out Volquez's control issues, and thick marine air in PetCo envelops even well-hit fly balls.
Tim Stauffer returns as the front line starter in San Diego. With Aaron Harang now in Dodger blue, Stauffer will be looked upon to be the innings eater of the staff. He tossed 185.2 innings in 2011, and the Padres hope he can at least repeat the performance.
Lefty Clayton Richard will make his return in 2012. After exiting the staff in mid-July for arthroscopic shoulder surgery, Richard spent the off-season recovering, and has returned to camp with a clean bill of health. Richard has thrown multiple bullpen sessions since arriving in Peoria, Arizona, and recently threw live pitching off the mound for the first time. Richard says he feels 100% and is ready for April 5.
Cory Luebke is a promising pitcher at least, and a future ace at best. After filling the hole in the rotation left by Richard, Luebke went 6-10, but posted a 3.29 ERA and a 9.8 SO/9 ratio. Padre fans can easily look beyond his marred record and see that Luebke has high ceilings.
Rounding out the rotation is veteran Dustin Moseley. Moseley could quietly be the most dependable pitcher on the Padres staff, akin to Kevin Correia and his stint with the Padres a few years ago. Moseley started 20 games, and was credited for only three wins, despite a 3.30 ERA.
With good pitching almost a foregone conclusion, all it takes is some offense and the wins will come.