The Future is Extremely Bright for Padres Bullpen

Padres Jose Castillo

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The Padres have a very talented group of relief pitchers. Even though the team dealt its all-star closer in July, they have still flourished as a group. Let’s take a look at these men as they have really become a strength for the team.

The San Diego Padres have a very bright future.

Some still question whether all this hoopla about the farm system is legit. Others question if the front office and ownership have the stamina and patience to stay the course. Rushing things at this point would be catastrophic. The team is nearing the corner, but have yet to round it.

Trading Brad Hand, to some, signified that the old regime and their values had returned. Fans immediately wondered how a team could improve constantly dealing their proven talent. The case of Hand was a special one. He had increased his value tenfold in a Padres uniform and though signed for three years, there was some risk in his future. The return on Hand of Francisco Mejia was one of those things that you cannot walk away from. Mejia is special. We have already witnessed that in a handful of at-bats.

Probably the most unrecognizable aspect of making this deal was the fact the Padres have a plethora of young relief pitchers in the system. There are plenty of pitchers who can step up and fill the void of losing a two-time all-star. In the past few months, we have seen that first hand as the Padres bullpen did not skip a beat after the trade of their closer and a very useful relief pitcher (Adam Cimber).

Here is a look at the current bullpen and why this will not be an issue for the team moving forward. They have depth now and plenty of young prospects down on the farm who also have the ability to be contributors.

Kirby Yates

His split-fastball has become a real weapon in the league. He has refined the pitch to be a strikeout weapon. The split makes his mid 90’s heater seem like it is coming at batters with triple-digit velocity. Yates is seasoned and comfortable in San Diego. He could be the teams next viable closer and could do the job for a while. Yates is signed through the 2020 season.

Craig Stammen

He is signed next year at $2.25 million which is a huge bargain. The right-handed hurler has improved his strikeout rate to its all-time high (10.1 K/per nine innings) and is only walking batters at a 1.9 walk rate. Stammen is pounding the zone and getting hitters out. At 35, he provides a great veteran leadership for a bunch that mostly consists of young pitchers just starting out their careers.

Credit: AP Photo

Jose Castillo

This kid has an amazing fastball and slider combination that is quite unhittable. He is also a great competitor who wants the ball when the game is on the line. Castillo has the moxie of a closer and could be used in that role in the near future. The lefty throws upper 90’s heat and spots it well to both sides of the plate. Plenty of upside with this 22-year-old.

Robert Stock

Hurling pitches at nearly 100 mph is a serious talent. Being able to spot the pitch and follow it up with a decent offspeed pitch is nearly impossible. Stock is a converted catcher who has a great fastball and an even better attitude. He has witnessed and felt the ups and downs of the game of baseball and you will be sure he puts his best foot forward each and every time he sets foot on the field. He has closer-type stuff as well.

Matt Strahm

This left-handed pitcher could end up in the rotation to start the season. He has indicated that he would like that opportunity in 2019 and the team will surely grant his wishes. He has the arsenal to go deep into games, as Strahm is armed with a few decent offspeed pitches. If the Padres want to utilize him out of the pen, he has shown that he is also effective there. I really like the upside with Strahm as a starter. He could flourish in that role.

Trey Wingenter

Another hard thrower is this big right-handed pitcher. Wingenter is constantly in the mid 90’s with his fastball and is working on improving his slider. If he can get that slider over for strikes, he has late-inning reliever written all over him. Wingenter has closed in the past and looks to be a decent option for the team if they need saves in the future.

(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

You see a common theme here? Multiple players who have the ability to close out games.

Phil Maton

He came on like gangbusters with his top-notch spin rate but has had nagging issues this 2018 season. Maton has a very deceiving fastball that gets on hitters successfully. He lost a little on his fastball this year, but there is still much to move with this right-handed pitcher. He could emerge in 2019 as he finally gets his health straight.

Colten Brewer

He was signed in the winter and the Padres got some use out of the right-handed pitcher. At 25, he still has time to develop into more than a middle reliever, but he is very serviceable in that area now. Brewer does not excite you in particular with his stuff, but he is effective and does generally throw strikes. He provides depth for the Padres heading into the 2019 season.

Miguel Diaz

Taken from the Cardinals in 2017 via the Rule-5 Draft, this right-handed pitcher has progressed quite nicely. He has an outside chance at a rotation spot heading into 2019, as the team stretched him out a bit during the year at San Antonio. Armed with a mid to upper 90’s fastball with plenty of movement, Diaz could be a viable player for the team down the road.

Jose Torres

He was suspended for the entire 2018 season due to some domestic violence issues. At 24, the Venezuelan left-handed pitcher still has time to mature. His off-field issues aside, he has great stuff. Torres throws in the mid 90’s and has a funky motion. He was enjoying some success for the major league team in 2017 but has some hurdles to get over before he is welcomed back on the team.

(Andres Munoz) Credit: MiLB

Brad Wieck

A 6-foot-9 lefty from Texas, Wieck has the ability to be a very serviceable reliever. When his motion is correct, he throws mid 90’s heat and is very deceptive to see for hitters. He is buried behind bullpen depth at this point and will need to really emerge in the next few weeks and in the spring to win a bullpen job in 2019.

Kazuhisa Makita

The Japanese submariner has been up and down between Triple-A and the Padres this whole season. He does not have much of a fastball and relies on deception and changing speeds to get batters out. In reality, his stuff dictates that he has to be fine with his control. If he is off with it, he gets hit hard. Makita is still under contract for 2019 and will be a part of the team to some degree.

Andres Munoz

Munoz has been clocked as high as 102 mph on the radar gun. He has a very easy motion and the ball just jumps on top of hitters. The Mexican right-handed pitcher started the 2018 season off slowly as he had some minor arm issue. He came back late in the season and was easily hitting triple digits with his fastball. He still needs a little seasoning but is very close to toeing the rubber at Petco Park.

Gerardo Reyes

Reyes is another hard-throwing Mexican right-handed pitcher. He sits in the mid 90’s and has a bit of a 3/4 to sidearm motion to his mechanics which can be tough to pick up on. He is close to being major league ready, as he spent some time in the Chihuahua’s bullpen during the 2018 season.

Eric Yardley

Reminiscent of Adam Cimber, but doesn’t throw quite as hard is this right-handed sidearm pitcher. Yardley is deceptive as his knuckles practically scrape the ground in his motion. He has a decent idea of where the ball is going and got a taste of major league life in 2018 during the spring. He is close and could get a callup in 2019 if everything breaks correctly for him.

5 thoughts on “The Future is Extremely Bright for Padres Bullpen

  1. Nice write up JAMES! There are enough bullpen pieces to stash a few at AAA in case of injury or trade. I would look to extend Yates out another year to increase his trade value like they did with Brad Hand.

  2. Don’t most teams with good farm systems have plenty of relief prospects? It’s the easiest spot to develop. And it explains why the club has made a yearly tradition of trading their best relievers under Preller, starting with Joaquin Benoit.
    As for “Rushing things at this point would be catastrophic. ” I agree, so I’m wondering if you’ve changed your mind on the Hosmer signing.

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