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April 8, 2013 5:00 am
Eric Stults succeeds, surprisingly.
When the Padres claimed Eric Stults off waivers last May the expectations were low. The move, though documented in a Transactions Analysis column, received little-to-no thought at the time. Injuries had thinned San Diego's rotation to the point where Jeff Suppan made a few starts. A team in need of a warm body appeared to net a warm body and little else in Stults, who, in addition to a big-league ERA threatening 5.00, had career ERAs in Triple-A and Japan eclipsing the mark. Marrying pedestrian stuff with awful numbers is a set-up for a quick divorce.
Yet Stults' performance never prompted the Padres to consider an annulment. The journeyman southpaw compiled a 2.92 ERA and a 2.22 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 92 1/3 innings. Those are numbers not crafted only within the forgiving confines of Petco Park. In addition to pitching more innings on the road than at home, Stults also posted a better ERA, K/BB ratio, and batting average on balls in play while staying in hotels. Even a strained shoulder, which cost Stults close to two months of the season, did not stop him from posting a strong second half. Nor finishing with three consecutive quality starts to end the season—each consisting of exactly six innings and three earned runs.