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Evaluating Joe Musgrove’s 2021 season

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Joe Musgrove had as successful of a season as you could imagine

San Francisco Giants v San Diego Padres Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images

If I would’ve told you before the season that Joe Musgrove would finish the 2021 season with the Padres’ first no-hitter in franchise history, a 3.18 ERA, and more than 200 strikeouts, you’d sign up for that immediately. Add all that to the fact that Musgrove was the only starter who didn’t miss a turn in the rotation, and you’ve got an impressive season from the El Cajon native.

There wasn’t much talk about the Musgrove trade in the offseason because he just wasn’t as big of a name as Yu Darvish and Blake Snell. He made himself a household name this year though.

Most Padres fans also believe Musgrove earned himself a contract extension. The 28-year-old put the rotation on his back during the first two months of the season, so much so that he was in the NL Cy Young conversation. Musgrove owned a 1.24 ERA in March and April with an opponents batting average of .137. In May, the right-hander’s ERA was well under 3 with a 0.853 WHIP.

Of course Musgrove’s no-hitter helped his numbers but he went out and gave the Padres quality start after quality start.

The rest of the season wasn’t as dominant but it was expected that his numbers wouldn’t be as impressive when he started out the season with a no-hitter and five consecutive starts where he allowed two or less runs. Musgrove’s ERA was still under 4 in June, July, and August before jumping to north of 5 in his last five starts of the season.

We saw Darvish (hip), Snell (groin), and Paddack (elbow) not be able to finish the season, which should make fans even more appreciative of Musgrove’s ability to stay healthy all year. There were too many games where Craig Stammen, Reiss Knehr, and Pierce Johnson were making starts because there simply weren’t any options left.

Imagine if Musgrove wasn’t available to give the bullpen some sort of rest. The Padres wouldn’t have been in the playoff picture as long as they were if he wasn’t healthy, that’s for sure.

I also wanted to point out how great of a human being Musgrove is. There was a lot of pressure on him to perform because he was the hometown kid. Credit to him—he outperformed expectations. He made such an impact in the community that he was San Diego’s Roberto Clemente award nominee.

After he was done meeting the media after his final start on Saturday, he thanked each one of them and mentioned his teammate, Nabil Crismatt, so he could get the recognition he deserves.

I think I speak for every Padres fan when I say that I’m looking forward to watching Musgrove pitch in a Padres uniform for years to come. He had one heck of a start to his Friars career. Let’s hope it continues!