As we all know, San Diego’s starting pitching staff has been an absolute revolving door this season. Twelve different starters have been used by the Padres already this season, and we have not even reached the All-Star Break. Injuries have destroyed the young talent on this staff as Cory Luebke, Anthony Bass, and Joe Wieland have all missed significant time (or are scheduled to miss the entire season) due to their ailments.
While we could wallow in sadness and adopt a “Negative Nancy” attitude to the way things have gone and probably will go over the rest of the 2012 campaign, there is at least something/someone to look forward to in the coming weeks. That someone is young reliever turned starter Andrew Cashner, and it appears that he is getting closer to returning to San Diego’s roster and at least finishing the season as a member of the Padres’ starting rotation.
Cashner’s Recent Minor League Stint in San Antonio
After he made his debut as a starter for the Padres last month against the Brewers because of the injuries to the starting staff (2 2/3’s Innings, 2 Hits, 1 Run, most importantly 5 K’s), Cashner was sent down to Double-A San Antonio to mold himself back into a starter (Cashner was a starter in the minors with the Cubs before he became a full time reliever). The move of Cashner to the rotation was almost one out of desperation for Bud Black and the Padres as a whole, because Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard were the only starters left of the originally projected five which were expected to head San Diego’s rotation the 2012 season. With almost zero steady or experienced arms to rely on, giving Cashner a shot to work his way back into becoming a starter appeared to be a solid move at the time. Thankfully, it appears as if the move could pay positive dividends for Cashner and the Padres.
Since being sent down to San Antonio (or if you did not read Kevin’s short mention), Cashner has improved during his Double-A stint and appears to be getting himself back into “starter mode.” In his three starts with the Missions, Cashner has logged a 2-0 record over 14.1 Innings, given up 10 Hits, 3 Runs, and has accumulated a fantastic E.R.A. (1.88) and Walk (3) to Strikeout (22) ratio. What is even more impressive is the fact that Cashner has really improved in every outing during his Texas League stint. For instance, over his three starts, Cashner has increased his workload in Innings Pitched (3.1 to 5.0 to 6.0), limited his Hits allowed totals (4 to 3 to 3), decreased his Runs allowed totals (2 to 1 to 0), and increased his Strikeout numbers (3 to 9 to 10).
What Is Next and My Final Thoughts
According to an article on My San Antonio.com, Cashner will likely be making his way back to the Padres roster in the coming weeks, and could be on his way sooner rather than later. Whether or not the Padres will bring him back before or after the All-Star is their call. Nevertheless, we should ready ourselves to see Cashner taking the mound in Inning One as opposed to Inning Eight for the rest of the year. At least to me, this move is a “win-win” for both parties, and should be an intriguing situation for us the fans to watch develop over the rest of the season.
It is a win for the Padres, because they have nothing to lose by giving a one-time starter, one which has terrific velocity and upside I might add, a shot at earning a spot in a rotation which is in desperate need of assistance over the second half of the 2012 season. San Diego can know exactly where they stand with Cashner and determine whether or not he is fit to be a full-time starter, or go back to his original set-up man role. As for Cashner, he will get a chance to show the club what he can do as well as determine which role works best for him with the club in the present, and in the future.
While I do not know how this “Cashner to the Rotation” situation will turn out, I am glad that he is being asked to step up and help shoulder the load for the rest of the season as a starter. San Diego needs arms, and talented ones at that. With that in mind, Cashner will likely receive an extended audition of 12-16 starts over the next few months (estimate of when I believe he will return and how many games will be left) and the coaching staff will make their judgements from there. All we can do now is cross our fingers and wait while we cheer Cashner and the Padres on for the rest of the season and hope something positive happens.