Here are the 2019 San Diego Padres final grades for the relief pitchers.
At times, the bullpen was frustrating for a team that remained within the hunt for a wild card spot for much of the first half of the season.
Here we’ll provide season grades and evaluations for Padres pitchers who threw at least ten innings in relief this 2019 season.
Stammen came into 2019 entrenched in the eighth inning role following a pair of strong seasons. He started strong through May, but his heaviest workload since 2017 seemed to catch up to him in June as he faltered at the most inopportune time when the Padres were still in the thick of the NL Wild Card race. His lowest point came on June 9th when he was left in to give up four consecutive home runs to the Nationals on just seven pitches. Stammen had given up three homers in all of 2018, and he surpassed that total in the span of just a few minutes. However, he rebounded strongly as his numbers improved each month from July to the end of the season. At the end of the year, Stammen had allowed thirteen homers, his most since 2010, and at the highest rate of his career. He will be a free agent this offseason and will turn 36 in March. As the Padres have plenty of young arms fighting for limited spots on the roster in 2020, Stammen may have thrown his final pitch in a Padres uniform.
2019 marked Perdomo’s fourth season with the Padres since being a Rule 5 draft pick by the Rockies in 2015 and being traded to San Diego; it was also his first time being used almost exclusively as a reliever. In previous seasons, Perdomo has struggled with his command as a starter, which would often get him into trouble early on. In 2018, he was hit hard and often during his limited action at the big league level and ended up spending most of the year with Triple-A El Paso. This season was different as Perdomo showed the value he could still hold as a late-inning reliever as he had the most successful season of his career. He posted an ERA+ of 106, his first time passing the 100 mark as well as having the lowest WHIP and walk rates of his career over his 72 innings. Perdomo still has several years of control as he won’t be a free agent until after 2023, but he’ll have to continue to improve upon his success of 2019 to remain a piece in the plans of the team.
The Padres really couldn’t have asked for anything more from their closer as he turned in an all-star season in 2019 that included leading all of baseball in saves, and he should be the favorite for the Trevor Hoffman NL Reliever of the Year award. With an ERA+ of 358 and a WHIP of .890, Yates staked his claim as one of the most dominant relievers in baseball following his elevation to full-time closer duties. Over the season, he only surrendered a pair of homers to post a HR/9 rate of 0.3, by far the lowest of any pitcher on the Padres staff this year. His 15 K/9 also led the way as he continually moved down hitters with his devastating splitter. Yates’s name has come up in trade rumors several times over the past two seasons, but with him being under team control through 2021, the Padres should still be in no rush to try and move him. At 32, he is a late bloomer, but despite his age, the Padres have been reported to be interested in extending the right-hander to lock down the ninth inning as the team looks to make the big leap towards contention in 2020.
The longest-tenured member of the Padres pitching staff, Erlin was roughed up quite a bit as he transitioned to a full-time reliever and made several trips between San Diego and El Paso. Erlin continued to show reasonable control as he walked just fifteen batters in his 55.1 innings on the mound, and he saw a rise in his strikeout numbers as his K/9 jumped a full strikeout from 2018. Much of his struggles seemed to come from a rise in opponent’s hard-hit percentage off him as it jumped up to 43.7% this season, nine points above his career rate. It also appears that Erlin was a bit unlucky this year as his FIP was 1.76 points lower than his final ERA. In the end, he finished with an ERA above five and is perhaps one of the odd men out in the Padres coming roster crunch this winter, and there’s not anything he offers that would put him ahead of the younger arms.
The hope was for Wingenter to take a big step forward in 2019 and make himself a vital piece of the back end of the bullpen moving forward. But early struggles in big-time moments saw him losing much of the late-inning work he previously seemed destined for. Like Erlin, though, a closer look at Wingenter’s numbers shows that there was growth this season that gets hidden behind a few notable blunders. Wingenter saw improvements in FIP, WHIP, HR/9, H/9, and BB/9. As stated earlier, though, Wingenter seemed to crumble whenever the lights shined the brightest. The right-hander is still just 25 and has an electric fastball/slider mix that can devastate opposing hitters when he’s on, but he still needs to show even more improvement in his ability to locate his pitches. It seems unlikely that the Padres would depart with Wingenter after just a single unsightly season in the bigs after the promise he’s shown in the past, but he could be a sleeper candidate to be non-tendered or traded as the front office looks to protect younger players who will become eligible for the Rule 5 draft this winter.
At the start of the season, Matt Strahm transitioned into the starting rotation from the bullpen, where he saw great success in 2018. Things went poor reasonably quickly; however, as Strahm struggled with his control, and his velocity dropped as he pitched deeper into games. He was consistently getting hammered, and the long ball became quite a problem for him as he allowed nineteen homers in just 81.2 innings as a starter before being moved back to the bullpen after a ghastly June in which he allowed eight homers and posted an ERA above ten. Following his return to a relief role, Strahm eventually found his groove again and posted substantial numbers in August and September to salvage the season a bit. Out of the bullpen, he saw his strikeout numbers jump back up over ten K/9 and regaining his control as he allowed just five walks in his 33 frames. In the end, he held opponents to a .246/.286/.357 line as a reliever and helping the team as a sorely-needed lefty out of the pen after Jose Castillo was lost for the season. The left-hander should be back for a full season of relief work in 2020.
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