Is Andres Munoz a lock for the San Diego Padres bullpen?

Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

With the San Diego Padres’ bullpen crowded with talent, is Andres Munoz a lock to make the team?

The San Diego Padres recently traded for Emilio Pagan of the Tampa Bay Rays to strengthen an already strong bullpen. Kirby Yates leads the relief core on the Padres, and before this offseason, Andres Munoz was arguably the second most enticing pitcher in it.

Since then, the Friars signed Drew Pomeranz and just traded for Emilio Pagan, making the competition for a bullpen spot very competitive. The Padres also made minor moves like adding Jerad Eickhoff, Pierce Johnson, and Kyle Barraclough to strengthen the competition.

There will also be some young arms like Cal Quantrill, Adrian Morejon, and Michel Baez, who could earn a spot on the roster. It now seems that no one except for Kirby Yates, Drew Pomeranz, Emilio Pagan, and Pierce Johnson has a guaranteed spot in the relief core.

With eight relievers on the roster, Andres Munoz has the potential to make the cut. But with all the competition on the roster, a bad spring could mean a start in the minors for anyone. Munoz burst onto the scene last season with his velocity as his main attraction.

The Mexican reliever throws his fastball upwards of 100 mph consistently, but his downfall, like many young pitchers, can be his control and lack of variety. The 21-year-old hurler only has a slider to go along with his fastball, but it is getting better the more he uses it.

Munoz used his slider 31.7 percent of the time last season as it still has room for improvement. It is especially exciting that Larry Rothschild is the pitching coach, as he has been known to help pitchers develop their sliders. Rothschild can make Munoz a better pitcher, but he also knows about the injuries that can come his way.

The Mexican pitcher had average numbers last season with a 3.91 ERA and a 1.174 WHIP. However, Munoz’s strikeouts-to-walks ratio was impressive, with 30 strikeouts and 11 walks. Considering his age, it was a very impressive debut season as he also became the youngest player in Padres history to record a save.

Munoz has the talent to be the future closer of the San Diego Padres, but there is still room to grow. At 21 years old, Munoz’s process does not need to be rushed as injuries are always a concern for someone that throws as hard as he does.

Last season it may have been necessary to keep the Mexican reliever on the roster, but there are more options this season. Munoz is a lock for the Padres bullpen based on talent alone, but there are other factors to consider as well.

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