San Diego Padres: A Look at the 2011 Starting Rotation

Michael CullenCorrespondent IMarch 20, 2011

San Diego Padres: A Look at the 2011 Starting Rotation

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    Padres fans will look to Mat Latos to continue the dominance they saw last year from this rising starChristian Petersen/Getty Images

    During the reign of Kevin Towers, and especially since their move to PETCO park, the Padres have been known as a team with good pitching and a below average and boring offense. Games of 1-0, 2-1, etc., are what Padres fans have come to expect.

    We’ve seen the likes of Jake Peavy, Greg Maddux and David Wells come through PETCO. This year’s team doesn’t have a “wow” factor in their rotation (Mat Latos? I just don’t want to put that pressure on him yet), but it does have at least three young guys who may be ready to make a jump, and a veteran who just might revert to his old ways with a change of scenery, coach, and ballpark.

    This year’s rotation will feature veteran Aaron Harang, and youngsters Mat Latos, Clayton Richard and Tim Stauffer. The fifth spot is up for grabs between Wade LeBlanc, Cory Luebke and Dustin Moseley.

Mat Latos

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Mat Latos

    Age: 23

    Draft: 2006; 11th round out of Broward CC, FL

    2010 Stats: 2.92 ERA, 14-10 W-L, 1.08 WHIP

    Looking at 2011: It doesn’t seem like the question of if he has the “stuff” is the problem. Rather, the problem is his maturity. In high school, Latos was known as having a bad attitude for constantly bickering with umps, opposing players and even his own teammates, which caused him to slip majorly in the draft. While he has come a long way from those days, there have been reports out of spring training of him arguing with umps over the strike zone.

    He also signed baseballs with “I hate SF’ and has quickly become a villain for Giants fan. If he can keep a cool head and stay healthy (last year was the first time he threw a full professional season, and he faded down the stretch), he should have an ERA between the two and three range and become the future ace of this staff. There’s no doubt he already helped Padres fans move on from Jake Peavy last year.

Aaron Harang

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    Rob Tringali/Getty Images

    Aaron Harang

    Age: 32

    Draft: 1999; sixth round out of San Diego State

    2010 Stats: 5.32 ERA, 6-7 W-L, 1.59 WHIP

    Looking at 2011: There’s a high possibility Harang could be the Opening Day starter. He is the veteran of the rotation this year and should provide leadership for the other young Padres starters. Looking at his 2010 numbers: the expectations shouldn’t be too high for him this year. However, there’s a chance the San Diego native could return to his old form.

    He has dealt with injuries the past three seasons, all while pitching in a hitters-friendly park. Before the injuries began, he shined in the 2006 and 2007 seasons, posting an ERA of 3.76 and 3.73 and winning 16 games both years. In 2006, he also led the National League in wins, complete games and strikeouts.

Clayton Richard

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Clayton Richard

    Age: 27

    Draft: 2005, 8th round out of Michigan

    2010 Stats: 3.75 ERA, 14-9 W-L, 1.41 WHIP

    Looking at 2011: Richard was acquired in the Jake Peavy trade and has been the biggest asset of any of those players received. Like Latos, Richard pitched over 200 innings for the first time in his career in 2010 and struggled as the season drew to a close. He is developing a change-up this spring, which if he can develop, should help him greatly since he doesn’t have a true off-speed pitch (he works with a fastball, cutter and split-finger fastball).

    Trivia: Richard was the backup QB to Chad Henne at the University of Michigan, before deciding to focus solely on baseball.

Tim Stauffer

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    Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    Tim Stauffer

    Age: 28

    Draft: 2006, first round (fourth pick) out of Richmond

    2010 Stats: 1.85 ERA, 6-5 W-L, 1.08 WHIP

    Looking at 2011: Alright, here’s my sleeper pick for 2011. If you play fantasy, Tim Stauffer could be one of the hot commodities off of the waiver wire this year. Look at the numbers he posted last year while splitting time between the bullpen and rotation and missing a chunk of the season due to appendicitis. 

    In 2009, he came back from shoulder surgery to post a 3.58 ERA and 1.44 WHIP while starting 14 games. This year, he finally has an assured spot in the rotation—and will be his time to shine.

Three Young Guns and a Hometown Kid

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    Pitching coach Darren Balsley will have a big role in the future of the Padres' young rotationJeff Gross/Getty Images

    Pitching has always been the strength of the Padres since moving into Petco Park.

    This year, the three young guns, especially Richard and Stauffer, should make additional jumps in their careers, while Harang should post better than a five ERA if for no other reason than switching home parks. It should be exciting to see the progression of this rotation.