Through the first ten games, the San Diego Padres have exceeded expectations. One forgotten element of their early success is how effective the relief pitching has been.
The early stages of the 2017 regular season have already had their ups and downs for the San Diego Padres. But as the team sits at 5-5 through ten contests, seven of which were on the road, fans are generally satisfied with the results so far.
Of course, a lot of San Diego’s success is a credit to their potent young lineup which features a good amount of power. With hitters the likes of Ryan Schimpf, Hunter Renfroe, Wil Myers, and Yangervis Solarte, the team is in position to score a lot of runs.
But it isn’t just the lineup which has compensated for the weaker link of the club, the rotation. So far this season it has been the bullpen which has stepped up when the team has needed it desperately.
In total, San Diego relievers have logged 30 and 2/3 innings thus far, putting forth a mediocre ERA of 4.70. But these stats are skewed by two games in the Los Angeles series in which the Dodgers poured it on against the more inexperienced portion of the Padre bullpen.
In fact, 10 of the 16 earned runs the ‘pen has surrendered could be attributed to these instances. That’s 10 of 16 runs in 2 of 10 games. Doing the math, this means that in the other eight games, the bullpen is only responsible for six runs, less than one run a game.
And it’s not like the starters are making the lives of these relievers easy. Despite solid starts from Miguel Diaz and Zach Lee this past week at Coors Field, late inning relievers such as Brad Hand and Brandon Maurer still had to hold a potent lineup at bey in a small park for several innings each night.
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San Diego relievers have struck out 32 hitters and have held their opponents to a .189 batting average collectively. These numbers are stellar, especially when the games which could be considered as outliers are taken into account.
Most of all, the way the late inning relievers do their jobs despite not being household names is what makes this group most impressive. They are so consistent, and don’t fold under pressure. Maurer, Hand, Ryan Buchter, and Kevin Quackenbush each deserve a great degree of recognition for their valiant efforts thus far this season to keep opponents off the board once they get past the starter. Myers may be hitting for the cycle, but San Diego’s relievers deserve more credit for the team’s ability to hold their own early this season.
The Padres are going to need more performances like these from their bullpen, without a doubt. The pitching is going to be leaning heavily on this unit all season long. Thankfully, judging based on what we’ve seen so far, the late innings are in good hands.