Padres News: Detailed Projection of the Padres 2016 Bullpen

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 Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015 season did not go the way A.J. Preller or any member of the San Diego Padres organization wanted it to go. After a frenzied offseason leading up to the 2015 season, many both within and outside the organization expected the results to be different for the Padres. Sadly, as is now fairly evident, that was not the case. The Padres actually lost more games last season than they did in 2014, and performed about the same or worse in many facets of their game.

One important way in which the team was different last season was in the bullpen. While the Padres expected many changes after the flurry of offseason moves, they did not anticipate regression in their pitching staff.

In 2014, the Padres sported one of the strongest pitching staffs to go along with one of the best bullpens. In 2015, both those things had changed completely. Both the bullpen and the starting rotation had taken big steps back from their numbers in 2014, even with important additions being made.

In 2014, the Padres bullpen was one of the best in all of baseball. As a unit, the Padres bullpen had the fifth best WAR in all of baseball, the second best ERA, the second best FIP, and numerous other top ten numbers as a team. By contrast, the Padres 2015 bullpen was an entirely different story.

Even with the additions of Craig Kimbrel and Brandon Maurer, who both had strong seasons, the bullpen finished in the bottom half of the league in many categories as opposed to the top half in 2014. As a group, the Padres bullpen had the 18th best WAR in all of baseball, the 23rd best ERA, 18th in FIP, and in the bottom half of several other categories. The difference between the two seasons was really night and day, even with the additions made.

With the significant regression of the Padres bullpen from 2014 to 2015 evident, questions now arise on what the Padres bullpen will look like in 2016, and how they will perform. While the offseason is still far from over, the Padres at this point have a pretty good idea of what players will be a part of their bullpen, or at least one players could be competing for jobs during Spring Training.

Credit: UT San Diego
Credit: UT San Diego

At this point, I will be taking each possible Padre bullpen member and looking at their projected performance in 2016 to see how the bullpen will shape up for 2016. This list of players obviously won’t include Marcus Mateo or Jay Jackson, who both look to be taking their talents to Japan for next season. On with the projections. For all projections I will be using Fangraphs 2016 Steamer projections that can be found on their site.

Brandon Maurer

At the top, or back, of the Padres 2016 bullpen last year’s seventh inning man Brandon Maurer. Following the trades of Joaquin Benoit and Craig Kimbrel, Maurer finds himself as the best remaining option in the back of the Padres bullpen. Obviously there is the significant question about whether Maurer will end up in the rotation for next season, but his projections are based purely on bullpen appearances. According to those projections, Maurer appears set to regress slightly from his 0.6 WAR performance of last season.

Projected 2016 War: 0.4

Nick Vincent

The next player on the list who is projected for the same WAR as Maurer, despite spending half of last year in the minors, is Nick Vincent. Vincent was up and down last season, but did have a strong season as a part of the Padres elite bullpen in 2014. At this point, Vincent’s performance will likely be closer to last season than 2014, but he should still be an important contributor to the Padres bullpen next season.

Projected 2016 War: 0.4

Kevin Quackenbush

Next up on the list of potential Padre bullpen pieces for next year, is another player who took a step back last year after a strong performance in 2014. After a breakout season in 2014 with a 2.48 ERA, Quackenbush finished the 2015 season with an ERA above 4.00, in what was a season to forget. The Steamer projections like Quackenbush for quite a bit of a bounce back, but he still seems unlikely to get back to his 2014 form. Either way, like Vincent, Quackenbush will still be an important pitcher next year in high leverage situations for the Padres bullpen.

Projected 2016 War: 0.3

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