San Diego spent a lot of money to win the World Series and shake up the National League West. While their bats have gotten a lot of attention, they’ve also spent a lot of money on the mound.
The Padres locked up each of their top starters with a series of extensions between last year and the start of this season. In the middle of last year’s season, they signed right-hander Joe Musgrove, 31, to a five-year, $100 million deal, and before the season, they signed Darvish Yu, 37, to a new six-year, $108 million deal. The two players alone are owed 27.25 billion won in Korean won over the next five to six years, including this year.
Musgrove, acquired in a trade from Pittsburgh prior to the 2021 season, was 11-9 with a 3.18 ERA in 32 games in 2021, his first season in San Diego. It included a historic no-hitter. He continued his strong play in the first half of 2022, earning All-Star honors, and San Diego opted to lock Musgrove up before he hit free agency.
Darvish, also acquired in a trade with the Chicago Cubs, performed well enough to convince San Diego. In two years, from 2021 to last year, he went 24-19 with a 3.61 ERA in 60 games, and last year he won 16 games and served as the team’s ace. The Padres then gave Darvish, who had one year left on his contract, another six-year deal. There was also a strategy to lower the team’s luxury tax burden.
The Dodgers were counting on the two to lead the team’s one-two punch on the mound. To win a World Series, you need a strong ace, so the expectations were high. Darvish is a proven pitcher, and I’ve seen firsthand that he’s still healthy in his mid-30s. Musgrove was still in his early 30s and had done enough to make me feel like he knew his pitches and could throw them.
But coincidentally, in the first year of their contracts, both players are struggling. It’s still early in the season, but their ERAs are among the worst of their careers.
Musgrove is 3-2 with a 4.71 ERA in seven games this season, throwing 36 1/3 innings. He’s been improving as of late, but he had a rough start to the season. Injuries have also caused him to miss time early in the season. This is his worst ERA since 2017, when he posted a 4.77 ERA with Houston.
While there’s certainly been some bad luck in terms of batted ball velocity, the fact that his BABIP has jumped from 0.213 in 2021 and 0.227 in 2022 to 0.262 this year is concerning. His strikeout rate is down and his walk rate is up. The metrics are clearly worse than last year.
Darvish is also struggling, going 3-4 with a 4.61 ERA in 10 games this season. Overall, Darvish’s performance has been up and down. Darvish’s OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) jumped from 0.587 to 0.743 last year. He’s in his late 30s, so a poor first season could be a liability for the team in the future.안전놀이터
San Diego will need a wake-up call from the bats if they want to make a run, but it’s most important to win when those two go out. The Padres are 4-3 with Musgrove on the mound, barely going over .500, and 4-6 in Darvish’s 10 starts. Last year, Musgrove went 19-11 and Darvish went 18-12 for a combined 37-23 (.617). This year, they’ll need to do the same to leapfrog the Los Angeles Dodgers.