San Diego Padres: What Friars Bullpen Might Look Like in 2018
By Tim Ryder
The San Diego Padres recently signed shut-down closer Brad Hand to a contract extension and signed Japanese reliever Kazuhisa Makita this offseason, as well. The Friars bullpen is shaping up to be a real strength for them in 2018.
With Spring Training just a few days away, everything is beginning to take shape for the San Diego Padres. Although there hasn’t been any closure in the Eric Hosmer situation as of yet, the rest of the Friars line-up seems to be pretty secure.
Along with a handful of expected secondary-positional battles that will take place over the next six weeks or so, the Padres pitching staff expects to have a few spots up for grabs as well. After Clayton Richard, Luis Perdomo, and Dinelson Lamet, last two spots in the rotation could go to any of the four other San Diego hurlers who are vying for them.
Colin Rea, Bryan Mitchell, Jordan Lyles, and likely a few others will be competing for those two spots in the Padres starting-five. Today, let’s take a look at the San Diego Padres projected back-end of their bullpen.
San Diego Padres bullpen’s back-end could be a force this season
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Naturally, All-Star closer Brad Hand has the 9th inning locked up for this year’s edition of the San Diego Padres.
Depending on how they fare this spring, the Padres setup-role could go to Craig Stammen (clubhouse leader, in my opinion), Kirby Yates, or the Padres’ newly-signed pitcher from Japan, Kazuhisa Makita.
Whichever pitcher Friars manager Andy Green may choose to man the 8th inning, any of these three would make sense in their own separate ways.
All three have upper-to-mid 90s fastballs and ungodly breaking stuff. In all likelihood, even if Green does choose a designated “setup man” leading to Hand in the 9th, it wouldn’t be a permanent situation.
How about the rest of the San Diego Padres bullpen?
With all of the advanced statistics that go into managing in the major leagues these days, Andy Green will have binders full of data to lead him to make the right decisions when it comes to matchups, righty-vs.-lefty, etc. Even going with his gut would lead Green to mix things up now and then.
To go with one guy and stick with him, no matter what the situation, would be awfully closed-minded of Green and downright detrimental to the Padres chances of success. Even after Yates, Stammen, and Makita, guys like Phil Maton, Zach Lee, Matt Strahm, or even Spring Training-invitee Tyson Ross could fill out the rest of the pen and provide different looks for the Friars through the season.
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So despite the excitement of a potential battle for the 8th inning role and the old “competition-breeds-better-play” adage, it will likely be setup-man-by-committee with Brad Hand closing things out. How the San Diego Padres plan on getting to the 8th inning will probably be decided on a game-to-game, batter-to-batter basis.