The 2021 San Diego Padres came into the season with a world of hype. Blake Snell, Yu Darvish, Mark Melancon, Ha-Seong Kim, Victor Caratini, and Keone Kela were all added during the wild offseason spending spree by A.J. Preller.
The result of that was immediate World Series contention with the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers rounding out the top three favorites. The Dodgers won last October, and the Yankees, well, they are the Yankees.
But to utter the Padres in the same sentence as them is something new for baseball fans. So, through the first few weeks of the season, the Padres have had mixed results. At times they looked unstoppable, at times they looked awful, and then at times, they looked like a middle-of-the-pack team bound for a .500 season.
Everybody knows that, and the starting rotation is one of the best in baseball especially after Joe Musgrove has jumped out to a terrific start to the season.
However, the secret weapon for the Padres might be a name not many people expected coming into the season, especially considering the stacked amount of bullpen arms Jayce Tingler has to work with.
Padres Bullpen Examination
Before the season began, we examined the state of the San Diego bullpen. With arms like Kela and Melancon added to a group that already included Drew Pomeranz and Emilio Pagan, the options seemed unlimited for Tingler.
The perfect scenario would be the starter going six, then some combination of Pomeranz-Kela-Pagan before handing it over to Melancon to shut the door.
On script as it may be for the Padres, Pomeranz got banged up in Spring Training and Kela has landed on the 10-day IL. That has prompted pitchers such as Aaron Northcraft and Nick Ramirez as well as Nabil Crismatt to get some action earlier than expected.
Albeit, the Padres’ secret weapon came over at the trade deadline last season and he could very well be the next shiny toy that Tingler brings out of the closet when he wants to show off. It’s none other than Austin Adams.
How can a guy with a 7.11 ERA be the secret weapon for the Padres?
It’s simple. His stuff is pure filth, and- when he’s on- he’s one of the best in the game. Adams came over from Seattle in the Austin Nola–Taylor Trammell trade and made his Padres debut last September.
— Bally Sports San Diego (@BallySportsSD) September 26, 2020
Those 25 seconds above are a perfect example of why Adams can be the next big thing for the Padres pen. If you toss out his outlier outing against the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he gave up three runs on three hits in just 2/3 of an inning, he’s been fantastic.
In his last four outings, he struck out the side once, struck out two of three batters faced twice, and the other time he struck out one of only two batters he faced.
Austin Adams, facing the same three hitters Ramirez started the 6th with, just went 1-2-3 with a couple Ks.
Adams could've gotten the 6th over Ramirez (then Pagán-Pom-Melancon). Unless — as now seems likely — one of those three wasn't available tonight.
— AJ Cassavell (@AJCassavell) April 26, 2021
With Kela on the shelf and Pomeranz on and off with his lingering injury, Adams could very well turn into the setup man to hold the 8th inning lead before giving the ball to Melancon.
When he’s on, he’s on. Pagan has been off and on since coming to San Diego last season, and the development and health of Adams could become a vital part of the Padres’ success this season especially considering the rash amount of injuries they have had to endure to start the season.
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To sum it up, if Adams can throw those pitches on a consistent basis, he could quickly become the setup guy or 7th inning guy that Tingler needs. Perhaps this is a bit premature, but Adams might be in line to be the next Padres closer down the road.
Nonetheless, Adams has filthy stuff that is tough to hit, and the Padres and Tingler should utilize him more as the season progresses.
Matthew Wadleigh, born in Oceanside and currently lives in Fresno. He lives with his wife and 2 dogs and is a sports enthusiast. Retired drummer and member of the Fresno State Marching Band. He has been a Padres fan since childhood and has suffered during the struggles just like everybody else.