Sky's Note: Please welcome Tommy Rancel to the BtB team. You can find more of Tommy's fine work over at DRaysBay, but don't worry, we've made him agree only to blog about the Rays once per month on penalty of sparkly pony avatars. The Rays bias on this blog already sickens me.
One of the more unheralded transactions during spring training was the Cubs release of Chad Gaudin and his subsequent signing with the San Diego Padres. There were rumors of the Rockies being interested in Gaudin, but they instead chose to trade for the Rays' Jason Hammel. Gaudin said he had a few suitors, and eventually settled on a minor league deal with the San Diego Padres. For a pitcher trying to get back into the league and re-establish his career it makes sense. The Padres are thin in terms of pitching depth and their ball park is suited to help the pitcher.
After two starts in Triple-A, Gaudin was called up and made his Padres debut last night. While he was not the winning pitcher, the Padres did win the game thanks in part to his five scoreless innings. His control wasn't the sharpest, as you can see by the four walks, but he was able to get a swinging strike 11.4% of the time and ended with five strikeouts in five innings.
Working exclusively as a starter in 2007, Gaudin showed the ability to get ground ball outs in bunches. In the small sample size we have from last night we saw that ability. Gaudin got eight ground ball outs or 66.7% for you percentage guys. Although it is unlikely he will sustain that average over the course of 30 starts, he should stay around 50% which is a nice number for a starter. In terms of fly balls, I'm sure he will enjoy the large dimensions of Petco Park which should help lower his career HR/9 of around 1.0.
Even though I don't expect Gaudin to become a well above average starter, I definitely think the marriage with the Padres will be a successful one. Pitching mostly against a weak NL West, Gaudin should be able to produce average to above average marks in the ERA/FIP categories and give the Padres a solid option behind Jake Peavy and Chris Young in a pretty open NL west race.