The San Diego Padres have resorted to ‘bullpen days’ to address the wafer-thin starting pitching, and thrown the starting rotation into disarray.
On May 25th, the San Diego Padres demolished the Toronto Blue Jays by the impressive score of 19-4, in part thanks to a strong performance by Cal Quantrill. He had pitched six strong innings, in which he struck out nine and gave up only two hits.
In the process, Quantrill had helped bring San Diego’s run differential down to zero—they weren’t giving up any more runs than they were scoring.
What was the end result of that strong performance? The Padres sent Quantrill down to Triple-A El Paso, so they could make room on the roster for reliever Luis Perdomo.
Since then, the team has had what they call “bullpen days,” where a string of relievers have been enlisted to take the place of a starting pitcher. And these makeshift starts have been a disaster.
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There have been four “bullpen days” from May 26th to June 9, and in those games, the San Diego Padres have gone 1-3. Their run differential has gone from zero to -17.
And the pitchers who have been part of this awkward plan—Perdomo, Nick Margevicius, and Robbie Erlin—have all struggled in a role that they’re not normally thrust into. Meanwhile, starters with potential like Quantrill are in limbo.
Bullpen days just aren’t working for anyone involved, and that includes the long-term future of San Diego’s pitching.
Young starting pitchers need consistent starts and support from the front office to succeed. The Padres’ pitching is stacked heavily with younger arms who need to be successful if the team is going to get to that contending window in 2020 and beyond. But San Diego’s strategy is hurting their growth by moving people like Quantrill and Margevicius between the minors and PETCO Park.
So how do the Padres stop bullpen days before they cost the team any more wins? What’s the real solution to their erratic starting schedule?
Andy Green could expand the starting rotation further, from five starters to six. Adding a starting spot would give pitchers like Margevicius, Quantrill and Logan Allen a chance for consistent starts that would further their development. And having some help to shoulder the workload could also address the concerns about Chris Paddack and Matt Strahm—they’d be getting an extra day off between starts, putting them in a better position to succeed, too.
Whatever he chooses to do, it can’t be continuing to ask his bullpen to help cobble together spot starts, because that’s only going to create further problems for a team that has the pitching talent to make a serious run at the NL West title.
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