Padres' Pitcher of the Year: Lake Elsinore

An upset in the making? The California League – with its inflated ERA's should be easy to pick. Fortunately, a few pitchers grinned when they saw the azure sky and plush grass of Lake Elsinore and fields across the league. It made the showdown for supremacy a year-long episode.

As we embark on this journey, we warn you to shield your eyes on what you are about to see. Two – yes two – pitchers in contention are relievers. Yikes!

Keep in mind that only what they do in the California League applies – so any appalling stats that may have been acquired in Mobile are thrown out the window.

It was May 20 that Paul Abraham allowed his first earned run of the year – in his 21st appearance of the season. In 35 games, spanning 42 innings, Abraham gave up five earned runs for an ERA of 1.07.

It was the manner in which he did all this that amazed. His ERA of 1.38 with runners in scoring position tells it all – just five hits surrendered in 41 at bats in such situations.

"The most important statistic for me is inherited runners, without a doubt," Abraham said. "If I come in with the bases loaded and one out and can get a ground ball double play that is my job."

His WHIP of 0.93 in the California League was the stuff of legends. He was a big part of the reason that the Storm won the first half Championship.

On June 30, Leo Rosales had an ERA of 4.63. When his name was called for the final time on September 4, the right-handed closer's ERA was knocked down to 3.18.

"Being able to lock in earlier, in April, rather than going through a slump and locking in June and July," said Rosales. "We have to figure out how to get going in April and start shutting things down."

During those last two months of the season, Rosales appeared in 29 games and yielded just five earned runs. His batting average against over that time was just .174.

Rosales ended up with 27 saves to lead the league, striking out 77 in 65 innings while walking 24. Seven of the 23 earned runs he allowed came in extra innings as he was money in the ninth.

And now the moment we have all been waiting for, Jared Wells has officially arrived.

"When I was in spring training, I was working with my pitching coach, Dave Rajsich, and I had a big loop in my leg kick, and that had a lot to do with it, I think," Wells said of the slow start to his career. "Once I straightened that out, my location and everything was so much better. From then on, when I was on the mound, I had the confidence that I could put the ball anywhere I wanted to and from then on it all just kinda clicked."

Wells posted an 11-3 record in 19 starts with a 3.44 ERA. He allowed two runs or less in eight games, and three runs or less in 14.

His strength lied in his confidence with runners on base. He rarely fell victim to the big inning. Supporting that claim is a .230 average against with runners in scoring position and a .159 average against with RISP and two outs.

His 10.68 baserunners per nine innings would have ranked ninth in the National League this year among starting pitchers and came out to a WHIP of 1.18. Despite pitching 120.1 innings, Wells faced a bases loaded situation twice – he simply didn't allow many men to reach base.

Wells won nine straight decisions over one stretch during the season and in those 11 games had an ERA of 1.87 and it included two complete games.

Wells was clearly in his own world this year and is the Lake Elsinore Pitcher of the Year – the second player to sweep the awards (Brent Carter).

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