Rookie Provides Rea of Light

The Padres’ post-season hopes still look bleak in late August but rookie right-hander Colin Rea is providing a ray of light. The 25-year-old pitcher already owns a pair of victories on the mound after just two major league starts and is benefiting from strong run support early and often.

In Rea’s outings against the Reds and Braves, the Friars combined to rack up 14 runs – before the end of the 3rd inning. That extra wiggle room helps a young pitcher like Rea feel more comfortable when he makes a few mistakes which are inevitable. For example, former Padre Cameron Maybin unleashed the fury on a pitch Rea left over the plate Monday night, but that one swing doesn’t look so bad in the 4th when his club spots him a 3-0 cushion in the 2nd. It’s easier to shake it off and refocus with a 3-1 lead than a 1-0 deficit.

Even some of the best veteran pitchers in the bigs start to press when they don’t get an iota of run support. Rancho Bernardo product and current Texas Ranger Cole Hamels knows all about that during the past few seasons. Even back in 2010 while with Philadelphia, the Phillies did not score a single run in one-third of the games Hamels started when he was on the mound.

It’s just two starts so let’s not get carried away here. But Rea appears to have the makeup and the demeanor of a starting pitcher that can carve out some staying power in San Diego. And at a towering 6-foot-5, the Iowa native stands tall on the mound peering towards the batter’s box. If Andrew Cashner can turn the corner, James Shields, Rea and Cashner could be integral parts of the Padres rotation for years to come.

Rea is scheduled to close out this homestand with his 3rd big league start Sunday against the Cardinals. As Morgan Freeman’s character says in the movie Shawshank Redemption, “Hope is a good thing… maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” As the 2015 campaign winds down, maybe the Padres have a little bit more hope for the future thanks to this “Rea” of light as September unfortunately gets closer to San Diego than the standings.

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