Our New Ace Is Who, Exactly?

February 22, 2018

By Chris Ello, February 21, 2018


The question, posed well before the start of spring training, was point blank to Manager Andy Green. And his answer came quickly.

 “What’s your starting rotation for this season look like?” was the query.

“Two guys have secured spots,” Green said. “Clayton Richard and Bryan Mitchell….”


Green went on, but there were many who didn’t hear anything else he said. Clayton Richard? OK, maybe he has a nice bounce-back season after leading the National League in losses with 15 last year. But Bryan Mitchell?


Who’s Bryan Mitchell?


And what’s he doing at the top of the Padres’ rotation?


Let’s answer the first question first. Mitchell is a 26-year-old right-hander who came to the Padres along with Chase Headley in a December trade with the New York Yankees. The Friars were so high on Mitchell, they agreed to take on all of Headley’s 2018 salary and send outfielder Jabari Blash to New York just to get him.


Oh. Well, then this guy must have some remarkable credentials. Or not. Mitchell was a 16th-round pick of the Yankees in 2009, who lured him away from a college career at North Carolina with an enticing $800,000 signing bonus. After five seasons in the minors, Mitchell made his big league debut in 2014. But he hardly has established himself.


Despite a fastball that can touch 100 miles-per-hour, Mitchell has pitched only 98.1 innings in his big league career and made only nine starts. His numbers are hardly eye-popping: two wins, six losses, an ERA of 4.94, 64 strikeouts, 44 walks and 1.62 WHIP.


San Diego is looking past the numbers, however. Green has said, in as many words, that all Mitchell has needed is a consistent opportunity, something the Yankees were never willing to give him. He’ll get that chance with the Padres, who are hoping his 3.76 career ERA as a starter (as opposed to 5.77 in relief) reflects the kind of pitcher they think he can be.


Fans of Friars will be hoping the same thing. And that soon, everyone will know the name.