Dodgers player hypes up Padres' Yuki Matsui after nasty spring training debut

If Yuki Matsui keeps this up, the competition for the closer spot could get really interesting in a hurry.

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres
Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres / Norm Hall/GettyImages

While it is still VERY early in spring training to get too excited, one of the best parts about the San Diego Padres getting an actual game under their belt on Thursday against the Dodgers was to see how the new faces in the organization look.

The Padres underwent a ton of changes this offseason and we don't yet really know how things will look like in 2024. As a result, getting a look at some of the options available to them was nice to get out of the way.

One of the bigger questions for the Padres in 2024 is how this new-look bullpen is going to perform. Losing a reliever as good as Josh Hader is always going to be painful to a degree, but San Diego has been very aggressive in building out the depth at the backend of their bullpen, and it all started when they went out and signed Yuki Matsui this offseason.

Matsui was one of the best closers over in Japan and, for the moment, appears to in line to get plenty of late-inning assignments alongside Robert Suarez and fellow newcomer Woo-Suk Go for the Padres. Still, Matsui was somewhat of a question mark until got his first taste of MLB spring training Thursday with one Dodger walking away from facing him very, very impressed.

Gavin Lux calls Matsui "pretty damn good" after his Padres' debut

The Padres' opening spring training game was very disappointing overall as San Diego got annihilated by the score of 14-1, but the results of spring training games don't actually matter and it's more important to just let guys get their work in.

However, it was still nice to see that when Yuki Matsui took the mound in the third inning, he was not messing around. Matsui faced three hitters in the inning and struck out every single one of them, including Lux, who waved some pretty ugly swings along the way.

When a fairly important player on a division rival talks glowingly about Matsui's fastball and splitter after seeing him the first time, it can't be overlooked. Pitchers are almost always going to be ahead of hitters this early in the spring, but everything Matsui threw passed the eye test as a guy that can get big league hitters out in high-leverage situations.

In fact, if Matsui keeps this up, how the Padres handle their closer role could accelerate, especially if Robert Suarez stumbles this spring at all. Matsui, Go, and Suarez all seem to have the chops to close games. While Suarez may have the profile of a stereotypical closer, Matsui has a chance to make this a close race this spring if he continues to perform like he did Thursday.

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