It's frightening to think of this Padres pitching staff without Petco Park's assistance to arms and psyches. Back in April when another fence debate arose, I shuddered while envisioning this club's pitchers outside the Petco cocoon over a full season. Here's an excerpt of what I wrote: "A less enormous outfield shouldn't be seen as a recipe for more on-field success, given the team's glut of Nos. 4-5 starters both in the majors and above Single-A."
At this stage of their careers, several of the team's current starters such as Jason Marquis, Kip Wells and Ross Ohlendorf, are thought by scouts to be No. 5 starters. The White Sox didn't think Clayton Richard could survive the combination of their hitter friendly ballpark and American League lineups. Entering this season, scouts liked Anthony Bass as a potential No. 4 but wondered if his max-effort style would make him more suitable, long-term, to a relief role. Because he gives up so many walks, Edinson Volquez, the one healthy Padres starter with ace stuff, might be exhausted and timid by now but for Petco. Joe Wieland impressed some scouts yet also projects as a No. 4. I've written at length about Petco being Miracle-Gro for relievers. In sum, I can't recall another Padres pitching staff, save the one in 2008, more in need of Petco's embrace. Without it, a long ugly season would be excruciating.
The rotation could have more raw stuff within a year or two if Andrew Cashner shows he can stay in a starting role, if Casey Kelly, described by scouts as a No. 3, can stay healthy, if Cory Luebke comes all the way back from Tommy John surgery and if Double-A starter Adys Portillo continues his rise. Read the whole article if you want to know where I stand on the fence debate. I'm not trying to change the mind of folks who say the games are deathly dull at Petco. I ask that they weigh the cost to the home team's pitching staff of making the outfield less gigantic.