Padres Analysis: Who Will the Padres Bullpen Consist of?


There are many potential position battles when it comes to the 2015 San Diego Padres. None is tighter than the battle at the back end of the pitching staff. It’s truly one to keep an eye on.

The Padres will probably keep 12 total pitchers on the roster. James Shields, Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, Ian Kennedy are all locked as the top 4 starting pitchers. That leaves in all reality Brandon Morrow, Odrisamer Despaigne and Robbie Erlin battling for the 5th spot. Read more about that here.  Matt Wisler will probably need another year of seasoning in the minors. Although anything can happen.

In the bullpen, Joaquin Benoit, Kevin Quackenbush, Dale Thayer, Brandon Maurer, Alex Torres and Shawn Kelley are almost assured their spots. It would take a horrible spring or injury for any of them not to be with the San Diego Padres on April 4th in Chavez Ravine.

With 11 spots essentially claimed already, that leaves us with a grand total of one spot left on the pitching staff. With the likes of Nick Vincent, Rich Garces, Jose Valverde, Scott Elbert and the losers of the #5 spot battle (Erlin/Morrow/Despaigne) to battle it out.

Now that is some depth, and it’s certain to be tested as the strain of pitching in the major leagues can be brutal on one’s arm. I hate to say it, but most likely someone will go down on the pitching staff during the spring. It happens all the time, it’s just the nature of the sport.

The battle for the 5th starter will dictate a lot to whom gets the last bullpen spot. I’m still sticking to Despaigne winning the 5th spot and Brandon Morrow pitching out of the bullpen as a long reliever or setup man. I wrote about it here, check it out. Morrow has the stuff to be dominant in a short role, and I think the limited innings on his arm is a good thing.

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Nick Vincent and Jose Valverde also have an outside chance at securing a spot on the team. Valverde is reportedly throwing with exceptional velocity this spring. He owns a career 3.27 era to go with 288 saves. He has a lot of experience but he might be on his last legs, as he posted a 5.66 era in 2014 for the New York Mets. Spring will be the key for him making the team.

Robbie Erlin is an interesting case, he has the stuff to be in the starting staff but probably will not win a job. He is the only lefty competing for a job in the rotation but ultimately Despaigne and Morrow just bring more to the table. He could start the year in AAA, or even make the team as a second lefty in the bullpen.

The acquisitions of both Maurer and Kelley bring the Padres a couple of hard throwing right handlers out of the bullpen. The pair should easily lock up a spot on the Padres rotation with their arsenal. Dale Thayer is also a mainstay in the bullpen. He has been remarkably consistent his three seasons of pro ball with the Padres.  A 3.36 era in his last three season of Major League Baseball, 212 total innings.

The lone returner in the lefthanded setup roll is Alex Torres. The 27 year old pitched really well last season with a 3.33 era. He can still be a little wild at times, but is effective against lefthanded batters. Garces and Elbert will be challenging Torres for the left handed reliever spot, but he should be able to hold them off. Torres has the expierence and determination needed in this vital role.

Kevin Quackenbush and Joaquin Benoit are the stoppers for the 8th and 9th inning. The young Quackenbush is looking to improve on his impressive rookie campaign. He was 3-3 last season with 2.48 era and a 1.10 whip. He also saved six games and showed his potential as a closer of the future. He is not dominate by any means, but he gets the job done.

Joaquin Benoit is probably better suited as an 8th inning guy, but he will open as the Padres closer. He saved 11 games last season after the Padres dealt Huston Street to the Los Angeles Angels. Benoit could easily flip flop with Quackenbush at the closer position. This is something worth monotoring during the spring. In this day and age of the game, the setup man is almost as important as the closer.

With AJ Preller on the prowl, an addition or two to the bullpen is still very possible. If a deal that makes sense both fiscally and chemistry wise, don’t be surprised if AJ makes another splash on the trade front. He will most surely be watching closely as the Padres start to play spring games.

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