With Dustin Moseley on the DL, and with the possibility he will miss the rest of this season staring him straight in the face, the San Diego Padres will call up Joe Weiland to start tomorrow's game against the Dodgers. He draws Ted Lilly, who will also be making his first start of 2012.
This poses two questions: (1) who will the Padres send down, and (2) will Weiland be a permanent part of the Padres 2012 rotation?
Who will the Padres send down? Recognize this is all pure speculation on my part. The Padres called up Josh Spence when they placed Moseley on the 15-day DL, so the early money would be on him returning to AAA. All the Padres relievers have pitched over the past 2 games, so there's no guy not getting any work who could be on his way out.
Spence has made 2 appearances, both against Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero, and thrown 4 pitches total while retiring Montero twice. Montero had one of the ugliest ABs you will ever see Wednesday afternoon against the soft-tossing lefty; none of the 3 pitches he swung at approached within a foot of the plate while breaking from right to left across the plate. Spence made him look bad.
If the Padres are looking to ship out someone currently struggling, the obvious candidates would be Brad Brach an Ernesto Frieri. Brach has faced 14 hitters and allowed 4 hits (including a HR) and 3 walks while striking out two. Frieri has been slightly better; he's faced 16 batters, allowed 3 hits (including a HR) and 2 walks while striking out 5. Now granted, 16 hitters is the epitome of a small sample size, yet these two guys are not throwing it as well as the rest of the bullpen.
We could also look at Micah Owings, who's numbers are similar (24 BF; 4H 1HR 2BB 3K); but his ERA+ (115) is better than both Frieri (68) and Brach (56).
The other criteria is the question of options. All 4 of the pitchers discussed above are on the 40-man roster. Owings has 4.053 years service time, Frieri 1.101 years, Brach 0.029, Spence 0.100. If I'm interpreting the options rule correctly Owings is out of options, Frieri has 1 left, Brach has 3 left, and Spence has 3 left. So the Padres can't send Owings down without having to pass him through waivers, but they could send any of the other 3 down with no issue. If I've screwed this up I would really appreciate a correction and tutorial on the options subject.
All that presented, I'm leaning towards Spence. Before Joe Thatcher threw a scoreless inning last night he had as many innings (2/3) in 6 previous games as Spence had since being called up. Somehow I don't think Bud Black needs two lefties in the bullpen.
Is Weiland here to stay? Most of that will depend on how he pitches. There are a number of factors here, not the least of which is starting his arbitration clock. For a cash-starved franchise like San Diego one would assume they will try to hold onto their young players for as long as possible, which means delaying their arbitration clock start for as long as possible. I don't think Weiland stays with the club for the rest of this season.
When Tim Stauffer returns from the DL (rumored to be at least another 3 weeks) Weiland will probably be sent down regardless. The Padres could call up Jeff Suppan to cover Moseley's rotation spot long-term, sending Weiland back to Tucson and Bass back to the bullpen. Or they could have something else in mind (wouldn't Roy Oswalt look good in Padre colors? Hey we can dream). Like I said, Weiland is likely here for experience and a cup of coffee only - not permanently.
No matter what, the first big prospect call-up of 2012 will happen tomorrow. I for one am really looking forward to seeing the kid pitch.