The Padres have constructed one of the better bullpens in Major League Baseball. Let’s look at a potential bullpen projection for Opening Day (albeit early).
The Padres have so many arms on the 40-man roster, and relief prospects on the way, it’s not hard to envision some roster shuffling, trades involving some of the player-prospects (from a position of depth), in attempt at filling other areas of need.
With other arms like Luis Perdomo, Matt Strahm, and Miguel Diaz who will all be vying for starting jobs in spring training — with Strahm as the more likely candidate of the bunch to succeed in that role. In fact, I would be surprised if Strahm wasn’t a substantial factor for the Padres’ starting rotation in 2019 and beyond.
Miguel Diaz has filthy stuff, but he may be more suited for the bullpen as he works fast, he’s aggressive and could be limited from a control standpoint. Being a multi-inning reliever in shorter stints could play advantageous, with his pure stuff, some deception, utilizing his elite movement, in addition to his high-velocity.
Luis Perdomo, like Diaz (both of whom were Rule 5 selections), owns good stuff, but has also had ample time to show his worth on the starting pitching front. He could be the odd man out given the other coveted arms. His lack of consistency, as well as several prospects that have been added to the 40-man roster could make him less desirable in comparison.
I do, however, believe Perdomo could be a decent swing-man if he fails to make necessary adjustments as a starter. Prospects such as Gerardo Reyes, or the reemergence of Robbie Erlin (who recovered from Tommy John Surgery) proved valuable on the reliever front, pitching his way back to the majors.
Phil Maton could be on the bubble if there are significant trades to the bullpen core before Opening Day.
Jose Castillo was a major ‘get’ you never hear about in the Wil Myers/Trea Turner trade with Tampa and Washington. Because of Myers’ inconsistency and Turner’s rapid development many (inside and outside the Padres organization) never saw coming, Castillo is almost the forgotten gem in that trade.
Castillo has dominant stuff from the left side, posted a very respectable 3.29 ERA, struck out 52 batters as a rookie in 38 innings, while averaging a 94.7MPH fastball (that can flirt with triple-digits), limiting left-handed hitters to a meager 2.03 batting average. He has all the makings of another excellent high-leverage lefty that could set-up, or possibly even close in the near future.
Maton’s success is driven by his high-spin rate and cut-fastball. Unfortunately, last year he took a step back and was inconsistent, bouncing from Triple-A to MLB. He could also be the odd man out with so many promising arms. Maton still struck out more than a batter over 9 innings, but he will have to command his fastball and establish his cutter against lefties if he wants to take his game to the next level.
He posted a palatable 4.37 ERA. However, his splits aren’t indicative (yet) of a reliever with a solidified spot; pitching to a respectable 3.65 ERA against righties, and an unacceptable 5.16 versus lefties.
Trey Wingenter burst on to the scene with his blazing fastball that averages over 97MPH, and can hit triple-digits. He flashed dominance at times striking out 27 batters in 19 innings as a rookie with a 3.79 ERA. If he can shorten the gap between his lefty righty splits (which already don’t have a major discrepancy), he should continue to prove to be a very valuable late inning reliever.
Robert Stock is one of the more intriguing relievers, and much like Wingenter, owns an extremely high fastball average (97.5MPH). He consistently touched 99MPH, and will touch triple-digits, overpowering hitters while generating weak contact. In 39 innings, Stock struck out 38 batters, along with a 1.26 WHIP, and 2.50 ERA.
He truly has closer stuff and could slip into that role if the Padres decide to trade one of Stammen or Yates. The Padres have even tinkered around with the idea of starting Stock against certain teams and just blowing it out for multiple innings to start the game.
Gerardo Reyes may get more time in the minors on the maturation front, but the Padres thought high enough of him to add him to the 40-man roster prior to the Rule 5 Draft to ensure his protection. Reyes has an upper-90’s fastball and a legitimate slider and should be another guy to keep an eye on that could move quickly.
The Padres’ relief pitchers had one of the higher collective WAR’s (Wins Above Replacement) in all if baseball, led by Craig Stammen and Kirby Yates. Barring a trade this off-season, both will anchor the back end of the bullpen where they provided near elite production last year.