San Diego Padres Bullpen Still Getting the Job Done

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MONTERREY, MEXICO - MAY 05: Relief pitcher Brad Hand #53 of San Diego Padres pitches on the ninth inning during the MLB game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Estadio de Beisbol Monterrey on May 5, 2018 in Monterrey, Mexico. Padres defeated the Dodgers 7-4. (Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images)
MONTERREY, MEXICO - MAY 05: Relief pitcher Brad Hand #53 of San Diego Padres pitches on the ninth inning during the MLB game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Estadio de Beisbol Monterrey on May 5, 2018 in Monterrey, Mexico. Padres defeated the Dodgers 7-4. (Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images) /
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For a while, it seemed as if the San Diego Padres’ tremendous relief corps would go to waste this season. That might not be the case.

Now that the San Diego Padres have begun to win more games and the rest of the NL West has begun to slip a bit, it appears as if there may be some very meaningful late-game innings to be pitched over the next couple of weeks.

Heading into a weekend series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Friars are still in the divisional basement, but there is an unquantifiable amount of extra hope around this team as of late. With a series win, the Padres could find themselves within striking distance of actual contention, albeit in late-May.

The Friars’ bullpen has been one of the more integral parts of this team so far. With over a quarter of the season in the can, the Padres relievers rank fifth in all of MLB with a 3.17 earned-run average. That’s fifth place among every bullpen throughout all of baseball.

It’s almost unbelievable that one facet of this team could be so good and the other parts can be so…meh. There have been high points for the Padres’ starters and hitters this year, but no group has come close to touching the zenith that the bullpen has reached this season; at least so far.

San Diego Padres have a handful of studs in their bullpen

Adam Cimber still leads the way for the San Diego Padres relief corps. His 0.7 wins above replacement, as per Fangraphs, ranks highest among the rest of his ‘pen-mates.

The lowest earned-run average of the group belongs to the currently-injured Phil Maton, who still has no timetable for his possible return to action. That’s a shame considering how outstanding he’s been this year.

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Kirby Yates and Craig Stammen have both been terrific. Yates owns a 1.06 earned-run average with an 11.65 strikeout per nine rating and 0.5 WAR.

Stammen has been just as effective, pitching to a 1.85 ERA with 9.25 strikeouts per nine innings.

Robbie Erlin has a 1.96 earned-run average as a reliever this season (4.80 ERA after his poor outing as a spot starter) and figures to have a role there again, as soon as the Padres’ rotation is back at 100 percent.

Jordan Lyles took his bullpen success and was able to transfer it over to a starting role.  How long he stays in the rotation is unknown at this point but he should be an option as the season wears on, as well.

Brad Hand has been, by all accounts, the MVP of the San Diego Padres bullpen this season. He may not have earned the true “value” title, as per advanced analytics, though. But his 2.08 ERA, 13.50 strikeouts per nine, and 0.5 WAR give us all a pretty good idea of just how good the big lefty has been this season.

Next: Villanueva Remains the Most Valuable Padre

If the Padres can continue to find themselves in close contests and need a few goose-eggs to be placed upon the scoreboard late in games, at least until the band gets broken up, this bullpen group should be able to get the job done.

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