San Diego Padres: Robbie Erlin is Earning His Rotation Shot

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 8: Robbie Erlin #41 of the San Diego Padres throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on June 8, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JUNE 8: Robbie Erlin #41 of the San Diego Padres throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on June 8, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /

After another solid outing for the San Diego Padres, Robbie Erlin may be earning himself a shot at next year’s rotation.

After a solid outing in Colorado last night, San Diego Padres LHP Robbie Erlin deserves to be in the starting pitching conversation for 2019 and beyond.

After re-earning his spot in the rotation last month, Erlin has put in some incredible pitching performances. He owns a 3.43 ERA over his four starts this month. He hasn’t walked or struck out many hitters, but he has kept the ball in the strike zone, especially Tuesday night in Colorado.

At only 60 pitches, I wished that Andy Green had kept Erlin in the game for at least another inning. That said, I understand why he didn’t due to the close nature of the game at the time.

Over the course of his five innings of work, he gave up three runs, however, one of those runs could have been prevented if Manuel Margot had gotten a better read on the ball in the third inning.

The season-high six strikeouts and no walks resonated with me most, because at Coors Field, the fewer balls put in play, the better. In his previous two starts at Coors Field (2014 and 2015), Erlin gave up 11 earned runs in eight innings, including 18 hits and just four strikeouts.

In his four starts this month, Erlin has pitched either five or six innings in every outing and has given the Padres a chance to win each game. In 21 innings,  he has struck out 15 and walked just two batters. In addition, he has pounded the strike zone, keeping the ball in the zone almost 70% of the time. Pounding the strike zone will help keep his pitch count low, eventually allowing him to go deeper into games as the season winds down.

In a crowded starting pitching conversation, Robbie Erlin deserves a chance.

Currently, the Padres have a five-man rotation consisting of Erlin, Clayton Richard, Jacob Nix, Joey Lucchesi, Brett Kennedy. They could soon be joined by the likes of Eric Lauer (DL- left forearm strain), Bryan Mitchell (DL-right elbow impingement), or even potentially Logan Allen from Triple-A El Paso. Factor in Dinelson Lamet, Matt Strahm, Luis Perdomo, and possibly Cal Quantrill and the Padres have 12 pitchers in the conversation for five rotation spots.

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Of all these names why Robbie Erlin? Due to his versatility, he can both come out of the pen and be a starting pitcher. However, Erlin deserves a spot in the rotation next year not only because of his performance this season, but he is also a veteran presence in a clubhouse that will need one. At only 27 years old, he has already been in the big leagues for six seasons and has rebounded from multiple surgeries. He could therefore potentially occupy the role that Clayton Richard has inherited over the past few seasons.

One thing that has also impressed me this season about Erlin is he throws a lot of strikes and gets through innings quickly and efficiently. Those are both major keys to being a successful major league starter.

Another theme that has been broadcasted by the front office as the season winds down is guys seizing their opportunity and proving they deserve a roster spot next season. As Andy Green said after the game via Jeff Saunders of the SDUT,

"“The opportunity sits out there the rest of the year to continue to show it.”"

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Robbie Erlin hasn’t always had the longest leash or the best opportunities to thrive in San Diego, however, if he keeps pitching the way he has this month, there is no reason that he doesn’t at least deserve to be in the rotation conversation for 2019.