Robbie Erlin during Spring Training. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Since May 18, Robbie Erlin’s first official day on the DL, the Padres have used eight different starting pitchers. On Saturday, we’re likely to see a ninth. The Padres’ pitching, their strength this year, has been suffering without the young number 5 starter in the rotation.
Erlin, a 23-year-old southpaw in his second year with the Padres, went on the disabled list after experiencing soreness in his pitching elbow after several starts. If you recall, that was the same complaint made by Andrew Cashner when he went on the DL about a week before Erlin. Cashner was reactivated last week, and pitched six scoreless innings on Saturday. Erlin’s recovery is taking longer. An initial MRI on May 21 showed some fluid in his elbow. He’s likely to go in for a second MRI.
Padres.mlb.com reports: “He was examined, and I think they want to have one more MRI, one more look to compare it to where he was like three weeks ago when they did it the last time,” Padres manager Buddy Black said. “So they’re going to compare that and then see if he’s good to go as far as getting back on a throwing program.”
Black has indicated that the team will make another roster move on Saturday, sending a player down to the minors to bring up what will likely be a one-start replacement for Erlin. The player that gets sent down could be reliever Kevin Quackenbush, despite his success since joining the club on May 27 (15.3 IP, with opponents hitting just .140 off him). Black has given no indication as to who might be called up.
Erlin’s absence has had a ripple effect on much of the pitching staff. Tim Stauffer, who started the season in long relief, has made several starts in Erlin’s place. After pitching very well in his first start, Stauffer failed to get out of the third inning in his two subsequent starts. At the same time, Donn Roach, the team’s other long reliever, was sent back down to Triple-A after a shaky start to the season. This combination of events has resulted in the long relief duties being spread out over the rest of the bullpen. With more pitchers being used for longer stints in more games, the bullpen hasn’t been as fresh, and hasn’t been as effective as early in the year.
Let’s hope for a good result on this MRI, and a quick return for Erlin. If the pitching on this team goes south, it’s going to be a long summer.