Padres News: What is Going on With the Bullpen?

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When the San Diego Padres upgraded their offense with the likes of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, Derek Norris and Will Middlebrooks, their offensive issues of the past seemed to be over. For the most part, that is true. The attitude that these hitters brought to the team were of far more value than the actual bats they bring to the plate every day. The game is mental and the Padres, as a team, have improved in that area.

James Shields addition to an already formidable staff was seen as icing on the cake for a great major league starting staff. The staff has pitched well so far. Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner have been solid. Ian Kennedy hurt himself in his first start, and was roughed up in his return on Saturday night. He does have a track record of success and should easily bounce back. Brandon Morrow has pitched very well so far in his four starts with a 1-0 record and a 2.67 ERA. Odrisamer Despaigne filled in for Kennedy while he was out and performed very well.

Lastly the addition of Craig Kimbrel was seen as a sign the San Diego Padres meant business. Kimbrel was to solidify a bullpen that was viewed as one of the best in the league. Nothing has been further from the truth as the bullpen has been a disaster. Joaquin Benoit was lit up in the eighth inning of the game on Monday night. The Houston Astros just went to town on him as Benoit gave up three runs on two hits and two walks without retiring a single batter. Benoit before that game had been relatively solid.

Dale Thayer has been solid so far as has Kimbrel, but other than those two, the pen has been a disaster. Thayer has a 1.93 ERA while Kimbrel has a 2.16 ERA while collecting six saves. Benoit had a sub 2.00 ERA entering the game, but after his beat-down his ERA ballooned to 4.09 on the season. It was just one bad outing for Benoit but the outing epitomizes the season thus far for the relievers.

Shawn Kelley and Nick Vincent were both lit up in short stints with the Padres to open the season. Kelley was placed on the DL with a calf strain after posting a 10.13 ERA in six games. Vincent was summoned to AAA after a 5.40 ERA in three games for the Padres. Vincent has pitched well since being demoted to Triple-A and should be called up eventually.

Kevin Quackenbush was called up after being flat-out dominant in Triple-A to begin the season. In his first appearance of the season he got roughed up a bit but after a scoreless inning against the Astros on Monday, his ERA is at 3.86 in two games. Both left-handed pitcher Frank Garces and Chris Rearick were demoted last week. Garces didn’t pitch that bad, but the Padres consistent hatred of left-handed pitchers continues. It’s ironic that a left-handed pitcher like Bud Black was, doesn’t value a southpaw in the bullpen.

Brandon Maurer started the season in El Paso, but was called up after the early struggles of the pen. Maurer has quality major league stuff and has shown flashes of dominance thus far this year. The 24-year-old has starter ability, but the Padres say they will use him in the middle relief role. Maurer gave up one run on Monday and raised his ERA to 3.86 on the season. He should be a fixture in the bullpen for the rest of the season.

This group of relievers was supposed to be a strong link in the Padres chain. It has proved to be anything but that. The group of relief pitchers the Padres have are far too talented to not pull it together. We as fans are just going to have to remain calm until Bud Black and the Padres can figure out who is reliable. I just hope that happens very soon, because every game counts and the Padres have given away far too many games.

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