By: Mark Collier
RHP - CHRIS PADDACK
PHOTO CREDIT: MARK COLLIER
Chris Paddack is currently going through his second spring training with the San Diego Padres club. This spring definitely has a different vibe however as Paddack is vying to be the clubs Opening Day starter, vs trying to simply make the roster. Paddack had a strong rookie campaign in 2019 finishing 9-7 with a 3.33 ERA. The 6’5” Austin, Texas native pitched 140 and ⅔ innings while striking out 153 and had a WHIP that was under 1.0. Paddack had a stunning 14 games giving up one run or less in his 26 starts. In fairness, Paddack often was under an inning or pitch limit, so he did not often go deep into games. One notable exception was when he took a no hitter into the 7th inning against the Miami Marlins, finishing the game with 7 and ⅔ of one hit ball. The tall right hander actually ended up with three games where he pitched at least five innings and gave up only one hit to opposing teams. Looking for a candidate to pitch the Padres first no-hitter? Paddack is certainly near the top of that list. Paddack was also added to MLB’s list this year as a dark horse candidate to win the NL Cy Young along with fellow teammate Dinelson Lamet.
Paddack has certainly faced adversity along the way. At the trade deadline in 2016 Paddack was traded by the team that drafted him the Florida Marlins and was dealt to the Padres for closer Fernando Rodney and unfortunately within a month was diagnosed with a torn UCL and ended up having Tommy John surgery. Battling his way back from injury, Paddack made his way to the AA level in 2018 and then cracked the Padres opening day roster in 2019. While realizing his dream of making the big league club, this didn’t mean 2019 came without its challenges. Paddack was sent back to the minors in June to minimize his inning count which was a humbling yet motivating experience. Paddack struggled against a handful of perennial playoff contenders, namely the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, and division rival Los Angeles Dodgers. He was 0-5 against those clubs and certainly the struggles against the division rival Dodgers will be on his mind as he enters the 2020 season as he knows they are the overwhelming favorite to win the NL West. With the ups and downs that Paddack has faced over the last four seasons he is looking to create some stability in his life, with his routine and on the mound, while also having fun and enjoying the ride of being a big league ball player.
Paddack who was given the name “Sheriff” as he is often seen donning a large Cowboy hat and also has an on field demeanor that is very serious, motivated, and determined to be an elite starting pitcher. With ambitions to be one of the best in the game, Paddack recently talked about a few things he is doing to become a better player and person as he enters his second season. He recently spoke with “Ben & Woods” of 97.3 morning San Diego sports talk team in Peoria saying that this year is about “balance”. In search of that balance Paddack first took some off-season advice of some seasoned Padre veterans who recommended when the season was over to take at least a few weeks to pump the brakes, rest, and recharge to recover from the MLB season grind. Paddack obliged by going to one of his favorite spots in Texas to hunt and fish that had no cell phone service. Additionally, he also mentioned he was joined by his brother this past week in Peoria and they spent time talking about their personal goals. In addition to balance in his life Paddack has his eyes set on becoming the ace of the staff, starting on Opening Day (if that’s in the cards for him) and playing meaningful baseball in October this season. Paddack has been through a lot at the young age of 24 and seems ready now that his inning limitations have been lifted to find balance, have fun, and step into a new phase of his career and unleash an even better version of himself against MLB teams. The Sheriff is ready to lay down the law on MLB opponents in 2020.