At the start of 2021 MacKenzie Gore was the #1 pitching prospect in baseball. Then he had all kinds of command issues in a disastrous season where he had to leave the minor leagues and work at the team's training facility.
On Friday, Gore started the Padres Cactus League opener against the Mariners. He only went two innings, your textbook "small sample size," but it was enough to spark serious optimism for a bounceback year.
Gore struck out two and didn't walk anyone in two hitless innings of a 6-4 Padres win. If that's a sign of things to come the Friars suddenly have a very good problem on their hands because the lefty with ridiculous stuff might force them to put him in the starting rotation that's already top-heavy, but not as keep as they'd like it to be.
When the lockout finally ended Gore wasn't on the typical list of guys penciled into the starting five. That was reserved for Joe Musgrove, Blake Snell, Yu Darvish, Mike Clevinger, Chris Paddack, and newcomer Nick Martinez. Gore's emergence as a legitimate starter would change things in a hurry and provide a lot more flexibility, something general manager A.J. Preller craves.
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The offense came from a couple of new additions. Catcher Jorge Alfaro launched an opposite field home run to right field, a 3-run shot that put the Padres up 4-3 in the 6th inning. Nomar Mazara, an outfielder who's also potentially in the DH mix, obliterated a solo shot in the 8th for the final run of the game.
Again, it is one Spring Training game, so it's best to not get too excited about anything. But, it sure beats losing the first time out of the gate.
The Padres get the Cubs on Saturday afternoon in Mesa, AZ with Reiss Knehr getting the start on the mound.
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