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The final bullpen spot is one competition that I am excited about, among others. The Padres bullpen is loaded with talent, but it would seem that there is an opportunity for one guy to earn a spot on the big-league roster. Pierce Johnson has a loose grip on the last spot, and he’s been magnificent in the exhibitions thus far.
In five appearances, Johnson has allowed five hits and one earned run, but he’s also struck out eight and walked just one. He spent last year playing in the Japan Central League, posting a 1.84 ERA in 58 appearances. Johnson indicated that he learned how to attack hitters and stop nibbling around the plate, which led to many of his issues walking batters.
There is a sense around the club that Javy Guerra could have a role in the bullpen, but does Jayce Tingler trust him with such limited experience? Guerra is out of options, so there is a potential he could latch on with another club.
I think it would be appropriate for Michel Baez to be included in the final bullpen spot conversation. He posted a 3.03 ERA in 24 appearances last year at the big league level, and in three spring training appearances, he has a 1.50 ERA with five strikeouts in 6.0 innings.
The Padres may have a plan to convert him back to a starter in the rotation, but with limited options there as well, he may have to spend another year in the bullpen or use one of his three remaining options to pitch in the rotation for Triple-A El Paso.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.