Two injured relief pitchers will improve Padres staff in 2023

Credit: AP Photo

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Padres came close to accomplishing their goal in 2022.

In the end, there were a few moments that sealed the fate of that team. But, unlike seasons past in San Diego, there is so much to be excited about if you root for the Padres. The team is built to win now, and the addition of Fernando Tatis Jr. will only strengthen the roster.

The pitching staff as a whole was excellent for the Padres in 2022. The main issue for the team in regard to this group is the pending free agents. Mike Clevinger and Sean Manaea will test the open market, and neither is certain to return to the Padres. Decisions will need to be made.

In the bullpen, Nick Martinez and Robert Suarez both have options, and each pitcher could also become a free agent this winter.

What will the Padres do to replace these men?

Internally, the Padres have a trio of young left-handed pitchers who could factor in 2023. On the bullpen side, there are two men who are returning from injury and could be reliable setup men for the Padres next season. One should be ready in the spring, the other may take some time.

Here is a look at the pair and what to expect.

Austin Adams

Surgery in August to repair a forearm tendon puts Adams’ future in San Diego in jeopardy. He is due to make a little under a million next season, but the surgery late during the 2022 season could very well cost Adams some of the 2023 season. The Padres could non-tender the pitcher, or they may elect to bring him back and put him on the IL to begin the season. Adams has swing-and-miss stuff and would be an effective high-leverage guy for the Padres. His type of arm is rare, and it is probably wise to be patient.

Adams does come with control issues, as he hit 24 batters in 2021, the last time he pitched for an entire season. His slider is wicked, but the pitcher has shown a propensity to get wild with the pitch. Adams is a project, but there is a high upside with him, and the Padres “real” season doesn’t begin until September and October. If he misses time early in the year, it shouldn’t be a huge deal for the Padres. Also, factor in that Adams came with Austin Nola in the Mariners trade, and Preller would sure love for him to excel in a Padres uniform to justify that deal.

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Drew Pomeranz

The Padres stunned MLB by giving Drew Pomeranz to a four-year deal for $43 million before the 2020 season. The lefty has excellent numbers in his second stint with the Padres but has only pitched in 43 games since inking the deal. Pomeranz did not pitch at the major league level last season, battling elbow issues. The Padres were on the hook for $10 million last season, and Pomeranz is due the same amount for 2023 in the last year of his contract. Preller and his staff need results from him.

The execution is there for Pomeranz once he gets on the field. It has just been a significant issue getting anything from him consistently. The Padres will keep an eye on the lefty this winter as he hopes to return from a balky elbow. There isn’t much confidence in Pomeranz right now, but in a contract year, you should see the best from this veteran pitcher next year. The Padres need a serviceable left-handed to pitch in high-leverage situations, so Pomeranz will be given every opportunity to win a job in 2023.

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