Jul 13, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Tyson Ross (38) throws in the 1st inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Yesterday the Padres traded away their closer Huston Street. Street had been with the team since 2012 and had racked up 80 saves to the tune of a 2.02 ERA, leaving him with the 10th most saves and the 8th lowest ERA among relievers in that span of time. Street will be missed, but the Padres aren’t contending this year and it’s always best to move a guy in the midst of a career year. Tonight will be the first game without him, and we’ll see how the Bud Black manages the pen late in game without Street to turn to.
Taking the hill for the Padres will be All Star Tyson Ross (7-10, 2.85 ERA). Ross is returning from his first All Star Game selection, and even though he wasn’t eligible to pitch in the game it’s still an honor to be picked. Ross lost his final 2 starts before heading into the break, but through no fault of his own. In last start against the Dodgers he allowed 1 run over 7 innings and the start before that against the Rockies he gave up 2 runs over 6 innings. Both were well pitched games, but like so many times this season the bats could not produce for Ross and the Padres saddling him with an undeserved loss. Hopefully Ross can get some support and remain in All Star form to lead the Padres to a victory.
Squaring off against Ross will be Dillon Gee (4-1, 2.56 ERA). Gee has been limited to just 9 starts this year after suffering a back injury in May. This will be just his second start since coming off the DL and the Mets would be more than happy if tonight’s start is a lot like his first. In that start he held the Atlanta Braves to just 1 run over 7 innings on 6 hits. While the Braves offense is far from elite it’s leaps and bounds ahead of what the Padres have going for them, so Gee should feel confident going into tonight’s game.
In the lineup tonight Bud Black will have the team’s most recent addition Chris Nelson batting 6th and playing second base. The versatile infielder made his Padre debut last night going 2 for 4 with an RBI. While I highly doubt Nelson will be able to keep his batting average up around .500, just hitting half of that would be an upgrade. Padres’ second basemen have hit a combined .185/.239/.272 leaving them with the worst batting average and OBP, but they are a shade higher than the A’s in SLG%.
If the Padres have a lead heading into the 9th inning and the game is close who will emerge from the pen tonight? The easy answer would be Joaquin Benoit, who was the closer for the Detroit Tigers last season and has been every bit as dominant as Street in the set up role. That would make sense, but with all trade rumors circling around him would Bud Black want to reshuffle his pen twice in the span of a couple weeks? Probably not.
The Padres could turn to recently activated Nick Vincent for the closer role. Vincent was dominant last year, but success hasn’t translated over to 2014 yet. A lot of that caqn be attributed to a series of horrendous outings just before he landed on the DL. It makes you wonder if he was injured and that had a negative impact on his performance. The Street opened up a roster spot for Vincent, so maybe he could take his spot and his role.
Another option could be Kevin Quackenbush. Quackenbush made his big league debut this year and since then he has built up a lot of trust form manager Bud Black. Black has been turning to him more and more in high leverage spots especially since the loss of Vincent, and has his 2.63 ERA suggests he’s come through on a number of occasions. He could not only be the closer this year, but he may take the job and run with it for a the next several years.
Regardless of who Black chooses we’ll hopefully find out tonight. First pitch is at 5:40 PDT.