Andres Munoz is waiting in the wings if the San Diego Padres decide to trade All-Star closer, Kirby Yates. Munoz is young but has the stuff to be a dominant force.
Kirby Yates is arguably the most dominant closer in the Major Leagues, currently leading the MLB with 39 saves, three more than the Yankees’ Aroldis Chapman in second place. The Hawaiin pitcher also has a minuscule ERA of 1.29 and a very impressive WHIP under one at 0.916.
Batters are hitting just .191 off of Yates, and he has only allowed eight earned runs in 55 games. However, while these numbers are amazing, Brad Hand also had spectacular stats, and the Padres were able to move past him with Yates.
Dominant closers are always in high demand and have tremendous trade value as shown by Brad Hand, who was dealt to the Cleveland Indians for catcher Francisco Mejia. The Padres clearly still need to make some significant moves to be competitive in the NL West and Kirby Yates may be able to help to get those final pieces.
While bullpen arms like Yates are hard to come by, the Padres have had a long history of producing talented relievers. The pitcher that will eventually take the torch from Yates has possibly already been found in Andres Munoz, who has been a revelation this season.
The 20-year-old fireballer can reach speeds of over 100 miles an hour and has already reached 102 in the major leagues. The Mexican reliever is currently a reliable arm for the Friars in the seventh or eighth inning and has inclusively already notched his first MLB save, back on Aug. 30, against the San Francisco Giants.
That save was an exceptional one as Munoz set a Padres’ record by becoming the youngest pitcher ever to record a save for the club. The record was previously set by Lance McCullers, who was 21 years old when he recorded his first save against the Cincinnati Reds on Aug. 12. 1985.
However, there is still the worry that comes with any pitcher that throws as hard as Andres Munoz does. That worry came to life earlier in the season when Cardinals’ closer Jordan Hicks tore his UCL and now needs Tommy John Surgery.
There have also been several other recent cases like that of Reds’ prospect Hunter Greene, who is also 20 years old. While some fans may not like the idea of relying on a pitcher who seems bound to have a surgery at some point in his career, Munoz’s talent is undeniable.
Munoz is by no means a safe pick; there will always be a risk when talking about a pitcher that can reach speeds over 100 miles an hour. There is the apparent injury scare that has been discussed and the worry that his speed will simply not be enough to maintian like Jumbo Diaz or Maikel Cleto.
However, the Sinaloa native has been getting progressively better with each inning that he has thrown, and he has proven that he is not just about speed. Munoz has held a very nice 1.77 ERA since making his MLB debut and has a similar WHIP to Kirby Yates at 0.984.
At 20 years old Munoz is still developing as a pitcher, and he has thrown a slider that is becoming a fantastic pitch. Even at such a young age, the Mexican hurler has shown that he can work under pressure and get out of jams as well.
Kirby Yates is by far a safe option, he can go on to have a very nice career, but there are other vital needs on the team that need to be addressed and trading away Yates can be a great help to address some of these needs. The Hawaiin closer has had a fantastic season, but he has not proven to be in any way an indispensable piece to this project.