Craig Stammen will help guide the youth on Padres’ pitching staff.
The San Diego Padres brought back veteran pitcher Craig Stammen on a two-year deal.
In 2019, the veteran reliever endured some very rough moments. The 35-year-old put up an 8.25 ERA in June, which included giving up some difficult home runs late in costly games. He never shied away from the media after these losses. In fact, Stammen spoke candidly about his tough days on the mound. This type of behavior speaks volumes to his character, and moments like this are precisely why the Padres decided to retain his services.
His awful performance in June gave way to an extremely productive July in which the reliever only gave up one run in 12 innings pitched, producing a 0.73 ERA for the Padres. He was on his way to his third consecutive productive season for the Friars ending his year with a 3.29 ERA, 1.159 WHIP, and the lowest walk rate in his major league career. Some will selectively remember the bad games from this pitcher, but he has been a vital member of a strong Padres’ pitching staff. Stammen has accrued a 3.9 WAR total in his three years with San Diego, which is pretty impressive for a middle reliever. He has also recorded an 18-13 record with a 3.06 ERA, 1.131 WHIP, and a 3.57 FIP in that time. The hurler has even saved four games for the Padres in his 241 innings pitched.
Statistics are one thing, but Stammen brings far more than that to the field.
The youth on the team learns much from watching this pitcher go about his craft. “I have a little bit of experience. That is one thing they are looking to gain. I just want them to feel apart of the team and welcomed,” Stammen said in August when asked about the younger pitchers on the staff. “They need to know they are a huge part of the team. The quicker they fall in line with big-league life, the quicker we will be on our way,” Stammen said. He understands that he is just a piece of the puzzle, and the quicker young players realize that fact- the better.
Always the team player, Stammen now has several reliable and dominant relievers in and around him in the bullpen. The signing of Drew Pomeranz and the further development of Andres Munoz, Michel Baez, Adrian Morejon, Jose Castillo, Trey Wingenter, David Bednar, and company dictate that Stammen will not potentially be counted on in high-leverage situations. That all remains to be seen, and it is quite early to lay out the hierarchy of the Padres’ 2020 bullpen. No matter what his role is for 2020, the pitcher will be ready.
Stammen can provide a father figure for the young pitchers, and that is a good thing. There will be even more rookie pitchers on the staff in 2020 as the team continues to graduate hurlers to the major league level. “There have been a lot of ups and downs with our performance,” Stammen told EVT last summer. The rookie pitchers took some of the struggles to heart during the season. Stammen was there for them. “It’s being consistently in their corner and make sure they feel good about what they are doing. I try to give them a little piece of advice to help them keep going. Mainly it’s just wrapping my arm around them when they need it,” Stammen said. It is no wonder that some of the pitchers refer to Stammen as “dad” in the clubhouse. It takes several mentors to guide a championship team.
At 36, when the season starts, Stammen is the eldest statesman on the roster. With only 732 career innings at the major league level, he has an arm capable of several more productive seasons. At times, like any pitcher, he will get roughed up and give up earned runs. That is to be expected. His accountability for his performances and what impression that leaves on young pitchers is invaluable to this Padres’ team. Craig Stammen provides stability to a young pitching staff that is sure to have several growing pains in 2020.