MacKenzie Gore Tentatively Slated For September Return

Padres left-hander MacKenzie Gore was placed on the 15-day injured list Tuesday due to inflammation in his throwing elbow, and as a result he “won’t throw…for a couple of weeks,” manager Bob Melvin told Kevin Acee of The San Diego Union-Tribune and other reporters.  “Structurally, everything looked pretty good in there compared to the past.  Low-grade strain, and I think we caught a break as far as that goes.”

However, it is also possible we’ve seen the last of Gore in 2022, as Acee hears from two sources that the Padres could shut Gore down entirely, rather than risk more serious injury by bringing him back too early.  Melvin acknowledged the uncertainty of Gore’s status, saying “I don’t know what the reality is as far as him pitching….If everything went smoothly, there’s a chance he could show up at some point in time in September.”

Though Gore has been considered one of baseball’s best pitching prospects basically ever since the Padres drafted him third overall in 2017, questions began to surface when Gore ran into some major mechanics issues in 2020, necessitating a big overhaul and a trip back down the minor league ladder in 2021.  He got back on track enough to make his MLB debut this season, with Gore posting a 4.50 ERA and 23.3% strikeout rate over 70 innings, starting 13 of 16 games.

The Statcast numbers weren’t too favorable to Gore’s work, as his walk and hard-contact rates were among the league’s worst.  Much of that damage came over his last seven outings — Gore has an 11.05 ERA in his last 22 innings, as opposed to a sterling 1.50 mark in his first 48 frames of work.  Due to both his recent struggles and as a way of conserving his innings, Gore had been working out of the bullpen for his last two appearances, without much success.

With this in mind, it wasn’t clear how big of a role Gore would have for the Padres down the stretch, though losing part of their pitching depth entirely to the IL obviously isn’t an ideal situation.  San Diego can only hope that Gore recovers well and is able to make it back and put himself in the conversation for the postseason roster.

On paper, San Diego has more depth than most teams, as the Padres were operating with a six-man rotation for a good chunk of the season, and Nick Martinez could possibly be stretched back out as a starter.  But, with Gore a question mark, it is also easy to see why the Padres have been linked to starting pitching in deadline rumors, with San Diego reportedly checking in on such names as Frankie Montas, Shohei Ohtani, and (before he was traded to the Mariners) Luis Castillo.

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