Padres’ Robbie Erlin Roughed Up in Return as a Starter

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Credit: USA Today Sports/Jake Roth

The path back to the Major Leagues has been a long one for Robbie Erlin.

The crafty lefty suffered a torn UCL in 2016 requiring Tommy John surgery, which led to him missing most of 2016 and all of 2017.

Against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday night, he made his first start of the season, filling in for Luis Perdomo, who is serving a five-game suspension for his role in the bench-clearing altercation with the Colorado Rockies last week.

Going into spring training, Erlin was given the opportunity to win a starting rotation spot. He pitched well in the spring, and even though he did not make the rotation, he did earn a spot, making the opening day roster for the first time since 2014. He has been a nice contributor to the Padres’ very good bullpen to start the year, but unfortunately the early results would not be replicated on this night.

Erlin cruised through the first inning, striking out both Corey Seager and Enrique Hernandez, showing a good mix of his arsenal, making his pitch even when he fell behind both Chris Taylor and Cory Seager.

In the second, Erlin ran into some trouble, walking Cody Bellinger to lead off the inning. The next batter, Matt Kemp, lined a single to left center field, but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double by Franchy Cordero. Yasmani Grandal would follow with a run scoring double off the center field wall. After walking Yasiel Puig, Erlin got Kyle Farmer to fly out to center field and struck out Hyun-Jin Ryu swinging to end the inning.

Padres miscues were the story in the third inning. Villanueva botched a slow ground ball, allowing Taylor to reach second base on the error. On the next pitch, Seager smoked a ball to right that was misplayed by Hunter Renfroe for a three-base error, allowing the Dodgers to tie the game. Hernandez would drive him in on the next at-bat, giving the Dodgers the lead once again. After a Bellinger single, Matt Kemp would follow with a three-run home run into the left center field seats. Erlin would work through the mistakes and escape the inning without allowing another run.

That ended Erlin’s night, as Matt Szczur would pinch hit for him in the bottom of the inning. Erlin allowed six hits, six runs, and four earned runs with four strikeouts.

Game Notes

– Hunter Renfroe and Christian Villanueva continue to hit left-handers hard. Renfroe crushed a double in the second off Ryu that went 95 MPH and Villanueva quickly outdid him with a 98.8 MPH two-run home run on the second pitch he saw from Ryu, giving the Padres an early 2-1 lead. Renfroe would also reach via walk in the fourth and Villanueva would follow with a single. Renfroe would add another double off lefty Scott Alexander in the ninth inning, his first multi-hit game of the year, and like clockwork, Villanueva followed with a single.

Adam Cimber continues to baffle hitters. The rookie right-hander went three innings, allowing one baserunner on a walk and striking out three, lowering his ERA to 1.38.

– No Padre, besides Villanueva or Renfroe, reached base against Ryu. They combined to go 0-17 with eight strikeouts. He retired the last eight batters he faced to end his night.

– The Padres did not draw a walk until the eighth inning when Chase Headley pinch-hit for Phil Maton. He was the first baserunner since Villanueva singled in the fourth.

– The Padres’ bullpen was very good until the ninth inning. They went 5.1 without allowing a hit, but after a double to Seager, an intentional walk to Bellinger, and a walk to Joc Pederson, Kazuhisa Makita allowed a grand slam to Grandal.

– Franchy Cordero got the first hit by a Padre not named Renfroe or Villanueva, an RBI single in the ninth to make it a 10-3 game. Unfortunately, Carlos Asuaje would follow with a game-ending double play.

– The Padres had three errors tonight, the second time already this season. They accomplished that four times all of last year.

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