Dominant Padres reliever has fans happily waving goodbye to Josh Hader

Josh who?
San Diego Padres pitcher Robert Suarez
San Diego Padres pitcher Robert Suarez / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

The San Diego Padres lost a lot of talent over the offseason. In addition to trading Juan Soto to the New York Yankees, the Friars also waved goodbye to the likes of Michael Wacha, Seth Lugo, Nick Martinez, Blake Snell, and Josh Hader.

AJ Preller helped to replenish some of the Padres' starting rotation by adding Michael King and Dylan Cease, but the bullpen additions of Woo Suk Go and Yuki Matsui were relatively unproven. Go is currently pitching in the minor leagues and Matsui has offered a mixed bag thus far.

Losing Hader was supposed to disrupt the back end of the Padres' bullpen. After all, the southpaw owned a sparkling 1.28 ERA last season, recorded 31 saves, and struck out 36% of the batters he faced in 2023. But Robert Suarez is making Pads fans forget all about Hader.

Padres reliever Robert Suarez has the team not missing Josh Hader at all

Suarez has eight saves on the year and a 0.88 ERA. That's a far cry from the numbers that Hader has put up since joining the Houston Astros this season. Hader, who signed a five-year, $95 million deal with the Astros this winter, is 0-2 with just two saves, a gross 8.38 ERA, and an 11.6% walk rate.

Suarez is not the strikeout artist that Hader is. Though he's struggled with walks this season, the former Padres closer still owns 37.2% strikeout rate. But Suarez has taken a different, and rather effective way of getting outs in the ninth inning.

Suarez is keeping the ball on the ground and allowing his infielders to do their job. The right-hander owns a 50% ground ball which has kept him from being burned by the long ball. Last season, Suarez's home run to fly ball ratio was 18.2%, but that number is down to 11.1% in 2024.

Suarez is keeping the ball low in the zone and has relied almost exclusively on his fastball of late. Until Monday's game in Colorado, Suarez had thrown 69 consecutive fastballs. Before the game, Suarez spoke to The Athletic (subscription required) through interpreter Pedro Gutiérrez saying, "I’ve been able to dominate with that pitch."

Suarez is signed through 2027 for less than half of what the Astros are paying Hader. If the Padres closer can continue to give manager Mike Shildt a reliable option late in games, the Friar faithful will soon forget about Hader altogether.

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