With the season half over, it’s time to hand out grades to the Padres’ bullpen.
For the first time in what seems like a decade, the Padres bullpen is the weakest link on the team, ranking 23rd in bullpen ERA. Let’s give grades to the Padres’ bullpen arms halfway through (among pitchers with at least 20 innings pitched).
Maton is in his third year in the Padres bullpen and after a strong rookie campaign in 2016, hopes were high. However, things have not gone according to plan as Maton has a 7.59 ERA and lowly 55 ERA+ in 20 appearances so far this season. He has spent some time in Triple-A to right the ship but so far, it has not worked. Maton is trending in the young direction, even still at 26 years old, the clock may be ticking for Maton. He has had three different blow-ups where he has allowed three earned runs in one appearance. He had a string of six straight appearances without allowing a run in May but in June, his struggles have reared its ugly head again, with a 14.54 ERA in 4 1/3 innings this month. He has been perhaps the weakest link in a bullpen that is struggling to keep the corners glued together.
Wieck only had five games worth of big league experience before this season. The 27 year-old has had some bumps in the road in his first full season in the majors. He had a strong first month, posting a 3.68 ERA in 10 games in March and April. However, his ERA has been over seven since. Twice this month, he has allowed two runs in less than one inning of work. His 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings rate is one of the best on the pitching staff. However, his 2.5 home runs per nine innings is one of the worst on the staff, in fact, it’s 10th-worst in the National League. His -0.2 WAR is also one of the lowest on the staff. He sits at 6.55 ERA with a 64 ERA+ for the year. With how inexperienced he is, it’s not fair to hold him to the same standards as a seasoned veteran like Craig Stammen or Warren.
Warren is currently on the shelf with a forearm strain but before his injury, he was not pitching like he used to. He will be 32 years old before the season ends and is in his eighth season; he may be starting his decline. Before 2019, he posted two straight years of an ERA lower than 3.20 but this year, it’s now at 5.34. Warren’s home run rate is fourth-worst in the National League at 2.83. Much like the rest of the pitching staff, Warren started strongly with a 4.15 ERA in the first month but has tapered off considerably since, with a 7.45 ERA in May. His 6.88 FIP is the third-worst in the National League and his -0.8 WAR is fourth-worst in all of baseball. Warren has struggled for most of the season and has not instilled confidence in the Padres.
Originally drafted by the Padres in 2011 and then was part of the package sent to the Braves in 2015 to acquire Craig Kimbrel. Now he is back with the team and has appeared in 21 games with a 5.28 ERA and a 79 ERA+. He had a strong May, with a 2.53 ERA in eight games but it has ballooned to an 8.64 ERA in June. Three times in June, he has allowed at least two runs in an outing. His 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings is fourth-best on the pitching staff however he also owns the third-worst walk rate. Perhaps things are going to turn around for Wisler with a 4.12 FIP, which is slightly better than average. This suggests he has had a run of bad luck and his numbers may return to earth soon. His 0.1 WAR shows he has been an average-at-best reliever but based on how the Padres bullpen has performed this year, it could be worse.
Perdomo is a bit of a wild card as he has mainly been a starter in his four seasons up and down in the majors. He might have found his niche in the bullpen this year. In 18 games, 17 of them as a reliever, he has a stingy 2.48 ERA with a stellar 168 ERA+. Perdomo certainly has the stuff to get outs, perhaps it’s better if his exposure is limited to a bullpen role to best take advantage of his skillset. The Friars need all the help they can get in the bullpen and another tool Perdomo offers is the ability to go multiple innings, with his experience as a starter. In fact, eight of his 17 relief appearances have gone for more than one inning and he has not allowed a run in eight straight appearances.
Wingenter had a strong audition last year in 22 games, he posted a 3.79 ERA and a 102 ERA+. He has built off of that this season. Still just 25, there have been some growing pains but overall, Wingenter has been the best reliever throughout the whole season for San Diego this side of Kirby Yates. In 30 appearances, he has a 3.56 ERA with a solid 117 ERA+, only Perdomo (in far less innings) and Yates have a better ERA+ in the bullpen. He strikes out 12.8 batters per nine innings, second only to the sure-fire All-Star closer Yates. He has only allowed two runs total in his last six appearances. June has been more challenging than other months this year, with a 4.97 ERA thus far, but he has already shown the ability to bounce back quickly as he has allowed runs in back to back outings just once this year.
Erlin has been recently sent down to Triple-A but has still made 24 appearances and tossed almost 32 innings. This is his sixth season with the team after recovering from Tommy John surgery, missing the entire 2017 season. His chances may be dwindling to stick around as he has a 5.40 ERA with a 77 ERA+, less than inspiring numbers. His last appearance was in that wild series in Colorado when nothing went right on the mound for either side and Erlin allowed six earned runs in just 2 1/3 innings. His ERA was actually in the low-fours before that debacle. He had a 3.97 ERA in the first month and has struggled since. To his credit, he had put together five straight scoreless games before that unraveling took place. He will most likely find himself in San Diego again as they continue to search for answers.
This is Stammen’s third year with the Padres and in his first two seasons, he put together some solid numbers, with a 2.94 ERA and 137 ERA+ in those two years combined. Be it Father Time or league adjustments, this year has been a different story. It has been much more of an up and down ride. He still shows flashes of the quality relief pitcher he has been for the better part of a decade. In May, Stammen was lights out with a 2.03 ERA but things have gotten out of hand in June, with a 10.24 ERA. An example of his roller coaster ride is that he sandwiched two four earned-run outings between six scoreless ones. He seemed to get back on track in his last game, helping the Padres hold a lead in Baltimore with 1 1/3 innings and three strikeouts. Stammen has the track record of success that his fellow, younger relievers do not have.
In a year of so many ups and downs with the pitching staff, Yates is having a season for the ages. Trevor Hoffman set the world on fire in 1998 with 53 saves and a 1.48 ERA, posting a 265 ERA+. Yates currently owns a 306 ERA+, far exceeding Hoffman’s career high. This is not to say Yates will have his number retired at Petco Park or put in Cooperstown but it’s to paint the picture of just how dominant he has been this year. He leads the entire league with 26 saves and only has blown one, which was just this past weekend. It had been almost a full calendar year since his last blown save. He has a 1.36 ERA and before that blown save on Sunday, he had not allowed a run in a save situation. He surely will be headed to Cleveland for the All-Star game, perhaps as the only Padres representative. He is continuing the long pedigree of Padres relievers who turn their careers around and themselves into All-Star caliber closers.