Trevor Hoffman anchored the 1998 Padres’ bullpen.
He relied on his masterful change-up and fastball combination to baffle hitters all season long. Hoffman saves 53 games and was awarded the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Award. He was the best closer in the National League at the time with a 4-2 record, 1.48 ERA, and a 0.849 WHIP, and Hoffman also struck out 86 in 73 innings. He was a sure thing for saves almost his whole career, but, in particular, that season, he was flat-out dominant.
The Padres’ bullpen was decent that season but could have been improved. Hoffman was untouchable, but the lack of a lefty and a quality set-up man hurt the Padres in the long run. Dan Miceli was the chief set-up man for Hoffman that season. Miceli was a power pitcher and a very nice compliment to Hoffman. In 1998, Miceli had a 3.22 ERA, and 70 strikeouts in 72 innings pitched. He did win ten games out of the bullpen for the Padres but lost five as well.
Donne Wall and Brian Boehringer were vital members of the Padres’ bullpen. Wall was in his first year in San Diego after coming from the Detroit Tigers with Dan Miceli for Tim Worrell and Trey Beamon in November 1997. He was ultimately dealt in 2000 for Bubba Trammell, who had some surprisingly productive seasons in San Diego.
Brian Boehringer was also in his first season as a Padre after being acquired with Andy Sheets for John Flaherty in November of 1997. He was 3-2 out of the bullpen in 1998 with a 4.36 ERA and a horrible WHIP of 1.572. My lasting memory of Donne Wall is him getting taken deep by Chuck Knoblauch in the 7th inning of Game 1 of the World Series, not a good memory to have of the man.
The left-handers out of the bullpen were Mark Langston and Randy Myers. The San Diego Padres always coveted Langston. When he was a Seattle Mariner, there seemed always to be talk of Langston coming to the Padres. Unfortunately for the Padres, they got him ten years too late. Langston was quite simply a shell of his former self. He just didn’t have the velocity or stamina to be a starting pitcher. In 1998, Langston recorded a 4-6 record with a 5.86 ERA. He started in 16 games for the Padres that season, but as I mentioned, he was just at the end of his career.
Myers was a horrible move by Kevin Towers. He was claimed in August of 1998 as an attempt to keep the Atlanta Braves from claiming him. The Padres would assume his $14 million salary. Myers, in his second stint as a Padre, would go 1-3 for the Padres with a 6.28 ERA and a 1.535 ERA. He was amazingly allowed on the playoff roster where he was smacked around in the 1998 playoffs (three hits and four earned runs in three innings pitched). Myers’ salary was paid by the Padres for the 1999 season and 2000 seasons, even though he never pitched one inning for any team. That was $14 million, for absolutely nothing! Caminiti signed for two years, and $9.5 million and Finley signed for four years, and $21.5 million, and the Padres paid Myers $14 million for nothing. This topic frustrated fans in 1998, and it blows my mind now thinking about it. The team eventually, in 2003, received $8 million towards an injury settlement reached with an insurance company regarding Myers’ inability to pitch. That did little to appease the fanbase and ease their pain.
The rest of the Padres’ bullpen that year consisted of Scott Sanders, Will Cunnane, Marc Kroon, and Roberto Ramirez. Sanders was a useful pitcher in his Padres career. However, this was his last year as a Padre. Also pitching for the Padres that season were Stan Spencer and Matt Clement. Clement was a rookie and got into four games for the Padres. Sanders was reacquired by the Padres from the Tigers in May to provide bullpen depth. He pitched in 23 games for the Padres in 1998.
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