Next on the list is a relative unknown who got his first taste of Major League action in 2014, pitching in seven innings, and appeared in only one inning in 2015. With so many holes in the Padres bullpen for next season, it appears Campos will likely finally get his first real shot in that bullpen. Campos has struggled in his short stints with the Padres, however he did finish last year with a sub-3.00 ERA in Triple A. Based on that Triple A success, in a great hitter’s league, Campos should be given the chance to be on the big league roster on opening day next season.
Projected 2016 War: 0.1
Next on the list is a trio of players who may or may not be on the big league roster next season, although all there have a fairly good chance. Mazzoni, like Campos, spent most of the 2015 season in Triple A with some great success before struggling mightily in the big leagues.
The same goes for Edwards who was dominant in Triple A for the Padres/Rangers, but struggled in big league stints with both teams. Finally, Tayron Guerrero who spent his whole 2015 season split between Double A and Triple A, while pitching to a sub-3.00 ERA in Double A and a sub-4.00 ERA in Triple A. All three guys figure to be in the mix to be in the bullpen next season, although one or more could fall out of the mix during Spring Training. Given their lack of 2015 big league playing time, the 2016 projections are incomplete for all three.
Projected Collective 2016 War: 0.0
Next is a group of three players all acquired by the Padres this offseason from the Rule 5 Draft or free agency. First up is Blake Smith, who was picked in the Rule 5 Draft from the White Sox and just recently switched from being a position player to a pitcher. Smith impressed with a 3.30 ERA in Triple A last season, and figures to at least get a shot in Spring Training to make the big league roster. If he does not he will be offered back to Chicago per the Rule 5 Draft rules.
Next up, another Rule 5 draftee Josh Martin, who had a 2.27 ERA last season with the Cleveland Indians minor league affiliate. Martin, despite a better performance than Smith, may have a smaller chance to make the big league club due to his lack of experience above Double A. Finally, Cesar Vargas is a free agent signee who pitched to a sub-3.00 ERA with the Yankees Double A affiliate last season before disappointing in Triple A. He does not come with the same restrictions as Smith and Martin, meaning he will likely begin the season in Triple A unless he really impresses in Spring Training. Due to all three having no big league experience last season, and all coming with question marks, the projections are incomplete for all three.
Projected Collective 2016 War: 0.0
The final group of potential Padre relievers for next season is a group that includes four guys who will likely split time between the starting rotation and bullpen, making their roles and numbers harder to project. The first two are new additions, in Drew Pomeranz and Buddy Baumann, who both are lefties, which certainly helps add to their case to be a part of the Padres bullpen or pitching staff next season.
Baumann has yet to see big league action, after spending the last three seasons with the Royals Triple A affiliate, pitching to ERAs around 3.00 in each season. Pomeranz on the other hand pitched for the Athletics last season, appearing in a bullpen role and a starting role. Depending on how the Padres fill out the remainder of their rotation behind James Shields, Tyson Ross, and Andrew Cashner, one of these two will likely end up in the rotation while the other has a good chance of earning a bullpen spot. Combined, the two are projected for a WAR of 1.3, with Pomeranz looking like the better bet in 2016.
In terms of returning players, the Padres have both Odrisamer Despaigne and Robbie Erlin, who both figure to get some serious starting consideration for next year along with Pomeranz and Baumann. The projections also have both Despaigne and Erlin splitting time between the bullpen and starting staff, making it difficult to properly project their numbers.
With Brandon Morrow back in the mix, the final two rotation spots figure to go to two out of the five guys mentioned here. The remaining three will likely be thrust into the bullpen, with the potential for one or more of these guys to start the year in the minors. Either way, the Padres will have a lot of starting pitching depth, with up to ten guys ready to make starts next season if necessary.
Projected Collective 2016 War: 3.1
Based on all of these numbers and the evaluations of each player, the Padres bullpen really has no sure things for next season. While Maurer may be the closest to a sure thing, there is still the very real possibility that he will be a starter next season. Kevin Quackenbush and Nick Vincent both seem prepared to take on bigger roles in the late innings, although it remains to be seen what both will provide going forward. Both Cory Mazzoni and Jon Edwards figure to have decent shots at full time bullpen roles, while both Tayron Guerrero and Leonel Campos may finally get the full time call up from the minor leagues.
The group of Blake Smith, Josh Martin and Cesar Vargas is filled with question marks, and Rule 5 Draft rules, but all three figure to get serious consideration in Spring Training. Finally among the group of Brandon Morrow, Drew Pomeranz, Buddy Baumann, Odrisamer Despaigne and Robbie Erlin, at least a few of those guys could end up in the bullpen if they are not slotted into the rotation. While the Padres bullpen doesn’t look altogether scary next season, they do have a lot of depth which leaves the team with a lot of options for next season. The Padres bullpen may not be a strength next season, but it should certainly not be a weakness.