The 2018 campaign for Kirby Yates won’t end after Sunday’s San Diego Padres game.
The best part about baseball is that it never ends. Sure, the regular season may be done after Sunday, however, we have the MLB playoffs, winter ball updates from around the world, the Arizona Fall League, and even a six-game exhibition tour of a team made up of MLB stars (including one of our San Diego Padres) taking on the best talent of the Nippon Professional Baseball league in Japan.
The six-game series will be televised live on the MLB Network and already features a roster made up of Ronald Acuna Jr, Yadier Molina, Eugenio Suarez, Christian Yelich, Rhys Hoskins, Carlos Santana, Whit Merrifield, and Chris Taylor. The team managed by Don Mattingly can add one more name to that list, San Diego Padres closer Kirby Yates.
Per Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune, it has been announced that Yates has accepted an invitation to play in the exhibition tour.
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The 31-year-old reliever is wrapping up a career year with the Padres, posting a 5-3 record and a 2.03 ERA across a career-high 62 innings pitched. He has converted 12 of 13 save opportunities, slotting into the closing role for the Friars after the trade of Brad Hand to the Cleveland Indians.
His 89 strikeouts and 0.90 WHIP are also both career-marks. Yates is second on the team in fWAR, behind his fellow bullpen mate Craig Stammen. The next closest Padres pitcher on the active roster is Joey Lucchesi who has a 1.1 fWAR going into his final start of the season on Sunday afternoon.
Yates has emerged as the leader of one of the best bullpens in all of baseball and may have solidified his place as the closer of next year’s Padres team. Of course, expect a few teams to come calling about Yates and Stammen during this offseason. If they want to pry either reliever away from the Padres, they will have to pay top dollar.
The televised series will begin on November 9th.