Projecting the Bullpen
In an offseason of rumors of high profile acquisitions, the Padres doubled down on making a strength stronger. The Padres signed Drew Pomeranz to a four year 34 million dollar and lured Pierce Johnson back stateside with a two year deal with a team option. The team also retained the services of bullpen stalwart Craig Stammen with a two year deal guaranteeing 9 million and traded for the Rays closer Emilio Pagan.
Kirby Yates had an outstanding season putting up 3.4 WAR but was snubbed from the Trevor Hoffman Award in 2019. Matt Strahm split time between the rotation and the pen but showed his arsenal plays up in shorter stints. Andres Munoz the 21 year old fireballer should see more high leverage situations if he can lower his walk rate.
On the bubble
So far the Padres seem to have seven spots locked down with one remaining assuming a standard five man rotation.
Javy Guerra, the converted shortstop, has the inside track on the last spot because he is out of options and shown enormous potential in a high velocity fastball and a quickly developing slider. He has had a strong spring so far and his upside won’t allow him to pass through waivers.
Jose Castillo, acquired as part of the infamous Wil Myers trade, was slowed by injuries last season after a very solid 2018. The lefty will definitely will get his share of innings in the majors but his slow work up this spring does not bode well in holding a 26 man roster spot on opening day.
Michel Baez/Adrian Morejon, had similar seasons in 2019 both Cubans made their MLB debuts last season in the bullpen but the team has indicated their hope that they can remain starters. Based on their pedigrees and starter potential both seem destined to start the season in the minors.
Trey Wingenter the tall righty struggled with control but with 12.71 K/9 has potential to be a potent mid-reliever. Ronald Bolanos was a bit of a surprise to be added to the 40 man roster but struggled in limited innings in 2019. Luis Perdomo the former Rule V draftee has one more option to the minors but was quietly effective. David Bednar jumped from AA to the majors last season but with mixed results in limited time. Gerardo Reyes another high octane arm also part of the Wil Myers deal had stronger FIP than ERA numbers but below average command hurts. Finally, Cal Quantrill is likely more of a spot starter and injury replacement this season but looks poised to start in El Paso.
With the new rules in 2020 that relievers are required to either complete the current inning or pitch to three batters, the Padres look well prepared to exploit their well built bullpen. The depth, diversity, and experience of this group should help bridge the gap from the starters to Kirby Yates to shut the door.
TKF contributor Chris Yumen. Follow on Twitter @CySouthbay