What will the bullpen look like for the San Diego Padres in 2020?
Entering the 2019 season, many knew that one of the San Diego Padres’ weaknesses would be pitching.
With a lineup that included Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, and Eric Hosmer, many were hoping that the offense would be able to break out this year. Unfortunately, that did not occur, as the team’s runs per game, batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage were all in the bottom third of the league.
Many Padres fans were aware that the starting rotation could be a problem during the season, as San Diego owns a very young staff. But one of the strengths of the team in the last few years has always been the bullpen. This year, it has not been the same.
Outside of lights-out closer Kirby Yates, who leads the league in saves, there has been a lot of inconsistency among the relievers. Matt Strahm and Trey Wingenter have had underwhelming seasons, both with ERAs close to 5.00. Gerardo Reyes and Nick Margevicius (who mostly started) have also pitched poorly, with ERAs of 9.00 and 6.47, respectively, and both with WHIPs of over 1.50.
Craig Stammen, 35, will be a free agent after the season and likely will not be re-signed. This team does have a lot of young pitchers with potential to bolster the bullpen next season, including Andres Munoz, Michel Baez, and Jose Castillo.
Depending on how many relievers the team decides to carry in the bullpen, it could be any number around seven to nine men.
There are a few locks in the bullpen, led by Kirby Yates. Yates has had a career year, converting 41 of his 44 save opportunities with a 1.21 ERA and 100 Ks in 59.2 innings (as of September 19). Given he is not traded this offseason, he will be the closer next season.
Some other locks include flamethrower Andres Munoz, Michel Baez, and Jose Castillo (given he is healthy), all of whom are under the age of 24.
Matt Strahm likely will be used as a long/early reliever, as his numbers prove he is stronger out of the bullpen than in the starting rotation. The remainder of the ‘pen will likely consist of Luis Perdomo, Trey Wingenter, and possibly Carl Edwards Jr., who was acquired for Brad Wieck at the trade deadline.
Eric Lauer has been in the starting rotation for the entirety of the season and could possibly be used either in the bullpen or the rotation. The starting five could be set for next season, depending on offseason signings and spring training showings. With Chris Paddack, Garrett Richards, and Dinelson Lamet probably locked in as the top three (for now), that likely leaves the last two spots up for grabs for Joey Lucchesi, Cal Quantrill, and Lauer.
A few other names that possibly could be bubble names for the bullpen on the 40-man roster include Javy Guerra, Ronald Bolanos, and Eric Yardley. The Padres’ 2020 season will depend on many young players on the roster with a high reliance on their pitching core, which will greatly be impacted on the consistency of the bullpen.