Overview of potential closers for Padres in 2021

Padres Drew Pomeranz

Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

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Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Do the San Diego Padres need to bring in a free agent closer? Most signs are leaning toward the team going with current bullpen makeup.  

The Padres’ bullpen ranked 8th in ERA in 2020 at 3.86. The group effort saw 20 different relievers contribute to finishing off games with over 234 innings pitched combined.

San Diego finished in the middle of the pack in saves with a combined total of 13. Drew Pomeranz and Trevor Rosenthal ended with four each, which led the team.

Early indications are that Kirby Yates will not return to the Padres. The closer is a free-agent and has reportedly priced himself out of the Padres’ budget. Since 2017, Yates saved 56 games with 41 alone in 2019. The former saves leader will be missed in San Diego.

Rosenthal has yet to make his free-agent decision. It is still possible he returns to San Diego. Rosenthal finished with a 0.00 ERA and enjoyed a dominant showing in the Padres’ brown uniforms.

If the former All-Star decides to sign elsewhere, the Padres have plenty of options to replace him.

Let’s examine some of the candidates.

Drew Pomeranz

Pomeranz seems to be the likely option to start the season at closer. The lefty didn’t allow a run until late in the season in 2020. His 1.45 ERA put him among the top in the MLB. He finished with four saves and only one blown save in 2020.

Pomeranz can pitch multiple innings, which could keep him in his usual set-up role if needed as well.

In his second stint with San Diego, Pomeranz continues to pitch well. Remember, he represented the Padres in the 2016 All-Star game.

Emilio Pagán

Pagán finished two innings shy of the team lead behind Crag Stammen (24.0) with 22.0 in his first season with the Padres. Pagán contributed to saving two games but overall had a down year, compared to 2019.

His 4.50 ERA placed him ninth on the team but he proved to be available throughout the season.

Pagán had 20 saves for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2019.

Austin Adams

Adams has filthy stuff. Outside of Yates, Adams led the team in k/9 at a whopping 15.75.

In 4.0 innings, he struck out seven with two walks and two earned runs.

There are three pitches in Adam’s arsenal. His fastball and slider are his go-to pitches. He threw his slider 83% of the time last year, and rarely issues his sinker.

Adam’s makeup shows qualities to become a closer, and if the Padres decide to go the group-effort route again this year, he may need to close a game, or even a few.

José Castillo 

Castillo needs to prove he can escape the injury bug before he secures a role in the bullpen.

If he stays healthy and shows improvement, Castillo also has the makeup to finish off games.

The lefty pitched 38 innings his rookie year in 2018, but he hasn’t been able to stay on the mound since then.

During his rookie year, he showed potential signs by striking out 52 batters and finishing with a 12.21 k/9. He issued his fastball and slider 99% of the time but does have a changeup.

Like Adams, Castillo may be forced to close a game if he needed, but the priority will be making the roster first.

In 2017, Castillo saved games representing his home country of Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.

Dan Altavilla

Altavilla is an unlikely option to close for the Padres but does have one career save with the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners traded him to the Padres along with Adams, Austin Nola, and Taylor Williams.

The right-hander pitched over 20 innings in 2020, with 8.2 innings in San Diego.

Taylor Williams 

Williams only appeared in one game for the Padres last year. Despite not having the experience with this bullpen, Williams saved six games for the Mariners in 2020.

Williams is unlikely to close unless injuries force him to the bullpen.

The Padres are known for creating All-Star closers. Trevor Hoffman, Brad Hand, and Kirby Yates are all examples of it. If the Padres decide to go with the next-man-up mentality like they recently have been, don’t be surprised if one of these players or someone not mentioned turns into a dominant closer.

2 thoughts on “Overview of potential closers for Padres in 2021

  1. I think we have a quality bullpen. It’s possible we’ll have someone step up and become that stud closer we’ll need if we want to make a serious WS pennant.

    Our starting pitching kept us from being good enough to close out the season and possibly advancing to the WS. Injuries the last week of the season took our two quality starters which cost us dearly. Don’t let the same happen because we decided to go cheap on a closer. A good BP is an injury away from an average pen. Like our starting pitching, let’s be ready just in case.

  2. IF this is the yr the Pads are “going” for the cake”, lets not start and end the season without a closer. All of the players listed are good players. The diamonds found in the rough were Balsley’s. We need a closer, not a committee. When was the last time the WS was won by a team without a closer? Ok, the Dodgers last yr but they played a team without a closer. With all of the capital put in the team this yr, don’t waste it by being cheap on signing a closer.

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