Ryan Buchter has been arguably the Padres best reliever all season long, a revelation that has solidified the back end of the bullpen even after Fernando Rodney left town. Thursday he blew a 4 run lead in the 8th inning.
Of course, the Padres know that he is human, but many questioned why Buchter wasn’t put into the closer role after the Rodney trade. After all, it was Brandon Maurer who had been demoted from the 8th inning to the 7th who was given the nod to close. Granted – he has done a good job but Buchter was left with the 8th inning spot.
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I think there was some politics in that change – Maurer is younger and likely has longer term value – but maybe the team was afraid Buchter’s season is a mirage – or perhaps they are looking to trade him this season the Yankees left-handed relievers Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman dramatically raise the value of power lefty relievers.
So here we were Thursday, the Padres had built a 5-1 lead and put Buchter in the game in a non-hold situation. Brad Hand had wrapped up the 6th, Kevin Quackenbush had an easy 7th, it seemed automatic. Then disaster struck.
For perspective, he hadn’t allowed a run at all since June 29th. In a crazy stat I found while researching this, he has only allowed a run in 5 of his 46 appearances this season. Five out of Forty Six! Unfortunately for him in one of those occurrences he allowed 4 run and another 5. Still, Manager Andy Green had the right words for the moment:
“Chalk it up to an off day. He’s had too many good days over the course of the season to really get concerned about him. His performance has been outstanding.”
Yangervis Solarte continued the Padres home run streak now up to 19, adding insurance in the 8th before the Buchter meltdown and Carlos Villanueva lost the game for the Padres in the bottom of the 9th. Andrew Cashner pitched well in the loss amid trade rumors.
It was a disappointing four game streak for the Padres, and for the Cardinals it kept them in the thick of the very exciting NL Wild Card race. While Washington, Chicago and San Francisco lead their divisions, currently the Clayton Kershaw-less Dodgers have the first wild card spot. They have it by one game over the suprising Miami Marlins who are about to get suspended Dee Gordon back. The Cards are one game behind them, with the Mets a half game from the Cardinals. Pittsburgh is 3 out of the wild card. The Cardinals also closed the gap in the Central to just 6.5. Still a lot of baseball left to find out who will make it in.