Padres catcher Austin Nola has struggled through a slow start to the season, perhaps still feeling the effects of a broken nose suffered when he was hit in the face by a Michael Fulmer fastball late in spring training. The 33-year-old is out to just a 3-for-29 start, and manager Bob Melvin conceded after last night’s game that the Padres “might need to do things a little differently” with regard to their catching setup (link via Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune). As Melvin points out, Nola enjoyed a strong spring before that unfortunate plunking; in 30 plate appearances he slashed .333/.487/.467.
Presumably, “differently” entails allotting more time to longtime top catching prospect Luis Campusano. The 24-year-old hasn’t exactly set the world on fire himself in this season’s small sample, going 4-for-16 with a double and five punchouts in 17 plate appearances. In parts of four seasons in the Majors, Campusano has received just 109 plate appearances and posted a .198/.239/.277 batting line. However, he’s also posted excellent batted-ball metrics (90.9 mph average exit velocity, 48.6% hard-hit rate) and owns a .296/.364/.511 batting line in 684 Triple-A plate appearances. He’s never been given a legitimate run as the team’s primary catcher.
To this point, Acee notes, Campusano has been the catcher for righty Michael Wacha and lefty Ryan Weathers, with Nola lining up behind the dish to catch Yu Darvish, Nick Martinez, Seth Lugo and Blake Snell. Whether the Friars will continue to deploy their catchers based on specific pitcher pairings remains to be determined, but Melvin’s comments suggest that Campusano is likely in for a larger workload to an extent.
As far as the rotation is concerned, the Padres have had to patch things together a bit with Joe Musgrove opening the season on the injured list due to a broken toe he suffered in the weight room during spring training. He’s already made one rehab start, but Musgrove landed awkwardly on his shoulder while making a play in the field during that start and had his second rehab start pushed back as a result. The right-hander had a cortisone injection in that shoulder earlier this week, and he’ll be evaluated again today, Melvin said earlier in the week (link via FriarWire’s Bill Center).
If things go well today, Musgrove could make a second rehab start as soon as tomorrow. Given that he already tossed 4 1/3 innings in his first rehab outing, Musgrove could plausibly be ready for activation following a second rehab appearance, although the team has not yet indicated whether the plan is for him to make two or three rehab starts. Even if Musgrove makes another pair of rehab appearances, he could still be in line for his season debut in the final week of April, assuming all goes well from a health vantage point.
Weathers and Lugo have exceeded expectations in joining the starting staff, but the Padres are surely eager to get Musgrove back nonetheless. Musgrove would’ve likely been in line to serve as San Diego’s Opening Day starter, but that title wound up going to lefty Blake Snell, who’s struggled through his first three starts of a contract season.
Dennis Lin of The Athletic spoke with Snell about those struggles, noting that the lefty began his offseason throwing program earlier than usual in hopes of shaking off some of his increasingly characteristic early-season struggles. Snell tells Lin that he’s made a concerted effort to throw more fastballs in an effort to “get out of my own way” and to remind him of the quality of his secondary pitches. “My curveball and slider are really good because of how good the fastball is,” says Snell.
Thus far, it hasn’t worked out in Snell’s favor. He’s lasted just 13 total innings across three starts, pitching to a 6.92 ERA while walking 10 of is 66 opponents (15.2%). Command and pitch efficiency have been issues for Snell throughout his career, which helps to explain his penchant for relatively short starts. (Snell has averaged just 5.09 innings per start in his career.)
Snell, the 2018 American League Cy Young winner with the Rays, has stumbled out of the gate in each of the past two seasons before ultimately righting the ship and dominating late in the year. In 2021, he pitched to a 5.44 ERA with a 14.3% walk rate in 19 starts through late July before rebounding with 44 1/3 innings of 1.83 ERA ball and an 8.4% walk rate over his final seven starts (44 1/3 innings). His 2022 season played out similarly: a 5.60 ERA and 12.2% walk rate through late June, followed by a 2.53 ERA, 35.1% strikeout rate and 8.4% walk rate in his final 17 starts.
Snell’s raw abilities are unquestionable. He’s a former Cy Young winner who can miss bats at an elite rate and, when he’s at his best, look like one of the game’s best pitchers. His ability to reach those peak levels with any degree of consistency, however, are far more questionable. Nonetheless, that repeatedly demonstrated ability to overwhelm opposing lineups — however inconsistent it may be — is what landed him in the No. 10 spot on yesterday’s edition of MLBTR’s 2023-24 Free Agent Power Rankings.
If he’s able to uncage his dominant form earlier than usual, Snell has the potential to be one of the most in-demand arms on next offseason’s market. His all-too-familiar peaks and valleys may give teams trepidation even he can round into form sooner than later, but left-handers who throw 96 mph and punch out nearly 30% of their opponents don’t grow on trees. And, other clubs will surely have their own ideas about how to get Snell to tap into that No. 1 starter upside with more regularity.
That trade was so very very bad.
justme789 said “that trade was so very bad”?
Really..cause Patino,Wilcox,Mejia and Hunt are so good?
Snell has been the best 2nd half pitcher in MLB the last 2 seasons..yes his 1st halves have sucked……but, which of those prospects are the Padres missing?
I think he’s referring to the Nola trade, which in retrospect was a huge overpay.
Wait…..you’re referring to Nola.
That I can agree with although before the DH we didnt have anywhere for France to play and our Catcher was Austin Hedges for Gwynns’ sake!
Munoz and France are the only ones we traded we’d want back.Took a shot…missed.
While I was referring to Austin Nola, Snell also qualifies. He’s been garb this year and I worry he’ll never be good again now that the pitch clock is a thing. I’m still holding out hope on Patiño and then Wilcox will enter 2024 as a top 100 overall prospect.
Lastly, Hedges hasn’t been much worse than Nola and they clearly aren’t interested in giving Camp an actual chance.
They had a place for France to play–the same position he is playing now. The Padres were simply unwilling to admit their Hosmer mistake.
I too hope Patino clicks, but there’s a big if there. Snell drives me nuts in April/May every year. If we cojuld have Manaea’s first half and Snell’s second half, we’d have Cy Y.
Nola’s in a funk in first week and a half of the season and the pitch clock has little to do with it, It’s April 13, not yet time make sweeping conclusions. Nola will be fine, he’s always been a good contact bat and I have to assume he’ll continue to be moving forward. Another thing we can be sure of is that Melvin sticks by his words and it sounds like Campusano will be given more starts, which was the plan this year anyway. No surprises or drama here.
Hedges? Great guy, nice defensively. But worst hitting catcher in MLB.
Do you think that the ball off the nose could be affecting Nola’s vision? Hard to hit what you can’t see clearly.
Patino seems to be cooked. As much as I loved him before the trade, between injuries and diminished stuff he is not able to get the job done at any level.
Wilcox had TJ surgery in 2021 and grades out as a 50 prospect overall. This spring he was sitting 93-94, a huge drop from the 96-98 he was sitting prior to his injury. Hopefully he can regain that velocity as he builds up this season. He is in AA, so the Rays believe that he has something to offer, but he is a long way from being a top 100 prospect.
Nola with Padres – .247/.320/.337/.657
Hedges with Guardians – .169/.228/.274/.502
League avg for a catcher vs worst in baseball.
Nope. Not much worse.
Melvin just said that Campy will see more playing time. Sounds like he will get an actual chance.
Like I said. Still holding out hope for Luis.
Wilcox needing TJ is obviously less than ideal but it’s not the end of the world. If he was going to need it anyway it’s probably better he had it before they called him up. I wouldn’t expect his velocity to be back to where it was in his very first game action back from TJ. Just keep an eye on him.
Hedges is obviously garbage with the bat but at this point I’d honestly take him over Austin Nola. At least Hedges is A++ with the glove. Campy could be better than either of them if they would only give him actual playing time. I’m not 100% sure if this is true but supposedly Snell and Darvish refuse to pitch to him?
Didn’t say that it was the end of the world. I am hoping Wilcox can regain the velocity and be a good BOR starter for the Rays. Wilcox pitched at the end of last season. 7 outings. 16 IP.
Darvish has pitched to 4 different catchers with the Padres. I doubt he has said he would not work with Campy. He is a team first kind of player. Snell is a headcase, but I doubt even he said that. I can find nothing where either are quoted as saying that or a beat writer said that they had said that.
I liked Wilcox when he was coming out of HS, I liked him when the Padres drafted him and I like him now. If he busts you can make fun of me all you want.
No blue check marks. But lots of randos on Twitter and Reddit have said Snell and Darvish refuse to throw to Campusano. And so far in this regular season those 2 have exclusively thrown to Nola.
I did find this but admittedly it’s hearsay. Take it however you want.
@ outinleftfield. Nola says he’s feeling fine now. What might be affecting him was the untimely down-time in his preparation. Catchers need a full spring more than any other players.
@justme789. Twitter and Reddit probably also said Darvish would only through to Caratini and never ever to Nola. Rumors are sometimes inaccurate. But it’s true that Nola calls a great game, at least that’s testimony from a lot of MLB SPs.
I agree with everything you said. However, I’d like to point out that Hedges was involved in the Clevinger trade, not the Nola trade. Luis Torrens was the catcher we gave up for Nola. Torrens didn’t amount to much as far as I know; I recall him being DFA’d earlier this season.
The Juan So-so trade was also terrible for the Padres.
yesterday’s 460 ft shot to deep right-center was marvelous, Ace
Ok, a long home run- so what.
It was his 128th at age 24 after a shortened Covid year. Career OPS+ of 157. Name 5 MLB players in history who have done better by age 24?
What really matters regarding him is that he’s nowhere near the player he was 2021 and earlier. Don’t care about his being 128th or whatever. Padres got completely taken for a ride by Mike Rizzo.
Ace – I’m going to say this one time and never respond to another of your idiotic childish posts: blow me.
No one should mock Snell to judge him.
Snell’s like a Pokémon. It takes some time for him to transform into Snellzilla
Hired Gun 23
Give Campusano a shot earlier than later and see if he can handle the workload. Nola might just need a lil more time to heal. I can’t imagine getting hit in the beak feels too great…
Same old story for Snell. He needs to get out of his head and pitch through this…
And Musgrove needs to wear steel toe boots in the weight room going forward…
Regarding Snell: his main opponent is his inability to just throw strikes. It’s got to be infuriating for him, because you can see the disdain on everyone else’s face (including mine!)
Hired Gun 23
Gwynning…agreed. And damn you for make me spit out a lil bit of my ‘lunchtime’ beer as I laughed at your response!
If Nola does come back, it will be hard to swallow if they return to Campusano.
Jung Like My Daddy
Campusano should be every day catcher at this point. Once Tatis Jr returns getting offense from catcher won’t be as necessary. Not too many options on trade market or remaining free agents – Jason Castro and Robinson Chirinos remain out there.
Castro announced his retirement after the World Series
I hope they extend him
Re Ryan Weathers, he was a top pick out of high school back in ’18. He was expected to succeed. He was thought to be a potential mid-rotation or better if things played out right.
Weathers was graded a 50 prospect in 2019. Meaning his ceiling was projected to be major league average. He has not been that good yet. None of his pitches have ever graded out as a 60 which means plus pitch.
Compare Weathers prospect grade to Gore who was graded a 65 overall. Or Paddack and Patino who both graded a 55.
Best case scenario is he can be a 5-6 starter long term.
I lie in wait for those who said if the Padres had taken Singer instead of Weathers they wouldn’t have been able afford to sign Xavier Edwards only for Weathers to get a bigger signing bonus than Singer anyway to admit that they were full of shxt.
That was also before weathers was throwing as hard as 97. Weathers has changed all of his breaking pitches this year and his looking pretty good so far. Prob never a top of the rotation guy but could be as good as a 3 guy if he continues on his current course.
I can’t say I watch Weathers pitch much, so I can only go on the stats. He has 5 SO in 10 IP. Maintaining his ERA doesn’t seem possible with a 13.2% SO rate. That has been a problem for him his entire career.
In 2021 he came out of the gate fast and then fell apart in June and beyond. The league caught up with him and he didn’t have an out pitch.
As far as velocity goes, that will only take him so far. Its not that big of an increase anyway. He was sitting 94 mph in 2021 and is sitting 95 mph in a small sample size this season. He needs to make batters miss and so far he is not doing that. His swinging strike rate this season is far below league average and is very consistent with his career averages.
His daddy was a major league player and after some time in the majors himself, Ryan went down to the minors with no complaints that I have read about, so maybe he can turn his career around. I hope so. I just don’t see where the underlying stats or stuff support him being any better than what he was in 2021. I do hope I am wrong.
Campy is 4-0 as starting C allowing 1 SB
Nola is 3-6 allowing 15 SB
I can careless if either one hits.. Campy needs to catch 4SP and Nola Yu and Snell..from here on out
Runners steal on the pitcher as much as, if not more than, on the catcher.
Severino 1113 ABs 33 HR .235 MLB career 2.4 WAR… with a Canon for an arm CS% 35+ is at El Paso AAA (not on 40) … was signed as insurance for Campy..he maybe insurance for Nola now…
Padres just need to let Campy play consistently. He has hit everywhere he has received regular at bats.
Wacha and Weathers, the 2 starters everyone expected to be the weak links in the Padres rotation to start the season, have a combined ERA under 3 with Campusano catching them. Something is working well there. So far this season he has been calling a great game for those two. Give him 3 out of every 6 starts and see what happens.
In terms of defense he has a lower rate of PB, WP, and in 4 games the opposing team has tried to run on him once. In spring training he showed elite pop time of 1.83-1.84 seconds (look up Realmuto’s pop time on StatCast) and he has a strong arm.
Snell is a headcase. He is the poster boy for gutless wonder. Top of the rotation stuff with no huevos. He simply refuses to throw the ball over the plate. All he does is nibble at the edges. As a Padre he has walked 11.3% of batters he has faced. He needs to trust his stuff.
I think part of the problem is also something he has said he does or more specifically something he doesn’t do much of. SLEEP. Have you ever seen a guy that young that looks like they have not slept in weeks? Send him to a sleep clinic. Take away his Xbox and phone. No more gaming all night. SLEEP.
The Padres need a catcher who is primarily a defense cather who can work well with the staff.The lineup once it is healthy and gels is pretty scary.
Nola and Campy splitting catching duties will be fine. Melvin can ride the hot hand, which right now is Campusano. Severino around just in case. Padres can win with these guys.
Another year of too little/too late for the Padres. And the organization is still reeling from the Juan So-so trade.
What’s his ops this year, well over and 800 and he is currently sucking. He will be fine
He’s still above average, but he’s nowhere close to good enough to explain the trade. Mike Rizzo/The Nationals traded him when he was at his worst, yet the Padres paid for him as though he was putting up 2020/2021 type numbers. Then he went to SD, and not only didn’t improve, but actually performed worse. He will post around 4 WAR this season. Whatever. It was an awful trade for the Padres.
None of the players traded have done much to date. Soto is well on his way having another over 900 ops again this year. Prospects are prospects you trade them when you are ready to win for generational talent.
Padres system is already on its way back up. 3 top 100 guys with another one just below. Plus already have a deal for one of if not the top international guy next year.
Some teams need to prospect hug because they aren’t willing to spend. The padres aren’t one of them right now. Plus preller finds new young talent to trade away while other orgs flounder at gathering talent.
133 OPS+ to be exact
I don’t blame Nola for being a little skiddish at the plate after being hit in the face. It might get to the point where players start wearing helmets that are covered in the front with a wire mesh like some bull riders use.
Or softball players in college ball.
“We need to shake things up at Catcher.”
Also: Sends Nola out there tonight again.
Now on year 9 of AJ Preller trying to find a catcher, in case anyone is counting. Ty France by himself was a huge overpay for Nola, that Munoz was included in the deal only it makes it worse.
Preller will spin anything, they traded France because “there was nowhere for him to play” yet this year, they have shifted guys all around the diamond to make room for Bogaerts.
Alot of people don’t want to say it out loud, but they also signed Cronenworth to a long term deal even though his OPS was like 6 points better than Hosmer last year. That is awful roster construction. Run off a guy with subpar 1B production in order to replace him with an all star 2B but also subpar 1B.
Crone 100% will be back at 2nd base in 2025. Possibly 2024 as well. Kim should have been traded the same day Bogey was signed but oh well.
Crone’s OPS and overall offense has fallen the last three years in a pretty steady trend. He seriously had a .722 OPS last year to Hosmer’s .716, not off to a great start in 2023, and here people are planning out where he will play in 2025……. I guess that’s what you do when everyone on your team is signed for 11ty billion years. I like Cronenworth alot but he was a “nice” 2B and using him at 1B to replace Hosmer is flat out stupid, they can do better production wise at 1B.
As for Kim, anyone trying to force him off the roster isn’t paying attention. He raised his average 49 points in year 2 of MLB and is off to a great start in 2023 with a good showing in the WBC to boot. He is exactly the kind of guy you should be looking to keep around on a reasonable deal instead of trying to find his replacement. Thus I guess it makes perfect sense that Preller signed Cronenworth for more years and not Kim. Cronenworth is older with declining numbers. #rockstargm
No. Crone is not declining. And stop saying that you “like him alot.” The both of us know that that is a vicious vicious lie. He doesn’t even belong in the same sentence as Eric Hosmer.
Kim is only signed through 2024 and can’t hit a MLB fastball. And the Padres don’t have to “find” his replacement they already got it.
Cronenworth also plays way better defense than hosmer. Check the war at the end of the year.
@ harambe. The Bogey trade made little sense to me but he’s looking really good in the lineup (and not bad in the field). Agree that it would make sense for them to trade Kim after this season but what would his value be assuming a slight uptick in offense this year? I believe his contract runs through 24 no?
@ Simm. 1B is a position I played in college and our season tickets are near 1B. Cronz’ play there last year was impressive, but this year I’m blown away by his advanced skill level at 1B. GG candidate.
Bogey has never been traded in his life.
Ok FA misspoke
The competition in San Diego was not between France and Hosmer, it was between France and the other guys playing 3B and 2B. Machado and Cronenworth.
As far as Cronenworth vs Hosmer its 116 with Padres vs 103. That is a huge difference in OPS+. 10.6 WAR vs 3.7 WAR is also a huge difference.
France was a 3B/2B/DH when he was traded. Seattle didn’t move him to 1B until 2021. He does have a higher OPS+ than Cronenworth, He also has a lower WAR, 8.5 vs Cronenworth’s 10.6 because of his defense and the switch to 1B.
That said, I would welcome either of them at 1B for the Angels.
The Padres. LOL!
Padres fans help me out here. Which pitcher gets squeezed out of the rotation when Musgrove returns? Lugo is not typically a starter but he looks every bit the part so far! Would they really choose him? He’s only given up 2 runs over 13 innings and both starts they won. If I’m the padres, I keep that train running!
Right now it’s weathers but second option is Martinez. The question is who will be sent down when mustrgrove is back.
If it drags out – Snell maybe goes to pen.
Lugo needs some down time due to innings limits too.
Yeah, I’ll say Martinz to pen first, then I’ll go with Tapia for going down or Honeywell – whoever had options more than who deserves it.
Good civil discourse, people.
All those über contracts, just to be looking up at the D-Backs!