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With the Padres splitting four games against the Los Angeles Dodgers and then losing two of three to the Philadelphia Phillies, leaving on a 10-game road trip back East could have started with a better home stand prior to departure. Going 4-5 in this stretch has to be disappointing considering the run the Padres were on, which brought them close to the division lead.

While the club is a game under .500 again, they’re still only 3 1/2 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks and in second place in the National League West. But that can also be attributed to the division being relatively weak in comparison to most others.

There are already a lot of trade rumors out there and a lot of them concern the Padres. Many are assuming that the Padres will want to seek starting pitching, but is that the piece they need in order to compete right now?

Clayton Richard has not been good this season and he’ll be the first to tell you that, and now he’s injured his shoulder. Robbie Erlin is then called up again, and again he was effective, and looks sure to stay up this time. No thing in baseball is a sure thing, but Erlin looks steady enough to be in the rotation for a long time.

Andrew Cashner has the potential to become an ace if he isn’t already on his way. The big issue with Cashner is that he’s never gone 100 innings in any season, and this season he’s projected to reach around 180 total, which is likely to be too scary for the Padres (manager Buddy Black believes that 150 innings is enough this season what with Cashner’s history of injury) so the Padres are starting to push back his starts in order to use him deep into the season.

Eric Stults has been solid, and while Jason Marquis hasn’t pitched as well as he would like or how he feels he’s capable, the veteran has the ability to get himself out of jams as proven by his leading the team in wins. Then you get to Edinson Volquez.

Volquez is erratic, and that’s understating Volquez. He can walk hitter after hitter and not give up a hit, or try too hard to put a ball in the zone and leave it out over the plate and get hit like crazy. But he’s very talented even though fans (and some in sports media) get so frustrated at times they want him released (which is an exaggerated overreaction).

Watch the fastball from Volquez, the movement on it. Not many pitchers can make that happen, much less possess the talent to do it naturally. Add to good secondary pitches and his talent far exceeds the frustration.

Waiting in the wings is Tyson Ross from the bull pen, who showed great promise early in the season before going down with a shoulder issue from hitting, not pitching. He’s been going in long relief with Tim Stauffer and both have looked good enough to go into the rotation as needed.

The rumors are that the Padres have made inquiries into obtaining either Ricky Nolasco of the Miami Marlins or Matt Garza of the Chicago Cubs. Nolasco is 30 and Garza 29, and both are clear free agents in 2014. Nolasco is making $11.5 million this season while Garza’s 2013 salary is $10.25 million, meaning at a minimum the Padres would have to pick up half of their salaries plus give up prospects, and likely have no shot at signing either pitcher as a free agent in 2014.

Trading for starting pitching might be worth considering, but the manner in which the Padres have been losing some games lately, short relief pitching seems to be in need more than anything. And short relief is likely to cost much less in terms of what the Padres would have to give up in trade, and in salary.

But stranger things have happened.


Notes:

The relief pitching merry-go-round continues in order to try and keep fresh arms stocked in the bull pen. Left handed reliever Tommy Layne, who was the hard-luck loser in Wednesday’s game, has been sent back down to AAA Tucson while Burch Smith has been recalled. Smith didn’t fare well in his three starts with the club previously, so it would be a surprise if Smith was anything more than bull pen help until he develops his secondary pitches.

Friday, the Padres begin their 10-game road trip in Miami to face the Marlins in a four-game series. Edinson Volquez (5-6, 5.67) will go for the Padres against the Marlins Ricky Nolasco (4-7, 3.68). Game starts at 4:10 PM PDST, on 1090 AM for radio and televised on Fox Sports San Diego.

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