Padres: The Craig Stammen experiment needs to end

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

The Padres brought Craig Stammen into a tied game in the bottom of the ninth. It went as expected.

On a day that Adrian Morejon was expected to make his third start for the Padres, it was Michel Baez who took the mound, as the former hit the injured list. Baez was recently called up to provide support for this struggling bullpen. He has starter experience and fanned three batters over 2.1 innings while allowing an earned run.

The Padres offense was generally quiet until the three-run outburst in the top half of the eighth inning to tie the ballgame. And that’s when things got interesting. Drew Pomeranz, who recently returned from an IL stint himself, needed just nine pitches to get through the bottom of the eighth inning.

And after the Padres had used Perdomo, Patino, Strahm, Johnson between Baez and Pomeranz, the bullpen was stretched thin. Still, there is no reason that Craig Stammen should have been given the ball in a high leverage situation.

Unfortunately, due to the new rule that requires a pitcher to face at least three batters (or finish the inning), Stammen was in big trouble after yielding a leadoff hit to Ryan McMahon and walking Garrett Hampson.

Stammen was once a reliable pitcher, posting a 2.73 ERA (2.19 FIP) in 73 appearances for the Padres in 2018. The failed starter turned reliever has generally been successful from the bullpen in his days with the Nationals and the early stint in San Diego.

But in 2020, he’s still being used in high-leverage situations, allowing a .313 average (.950 OPS). As bad as his July was, his August has been even worse. In 11 appearances this month, the 36-year-old has a 9.64 ERA while allowing opponents to hit .326 off him. Stammen has a 10.80 ERA beyond the sixth inning this year. Why in the world was he pitching the ninth on Saturday?

The Padres made a move on Saturday, acquiring Trevor Rosenthal from the Royals, but these bullpen days have to stop. Unfortunately, they have another one slated for Monday, so hopefully, Chris Paddack can step up on Sunday. Paddack hasn’t looked like himself this year, allowing 2.5 HR/9, a full run more than last year’s mark. His ten home runs allowed are the most in the league.

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But back to the bullpen and Stammen. With another year left on his deal and a club option in 2022 – which will almost certainly be declined – the Padres should be limiting Stammen’s usage to long relief only.

They badly need another proven starter to eat innings and allow this bullpen to rest.