This time last year the Padres were still conducting in game tryouts with every waiver wire, and end of spring release casualty they could sign. It took a while, but eventually the Pads ‘pen found some stability with the return of Mike Adams, and the growth of Luke Gregerson, Joe Thatcher, and Edward Mujica, to get the ball to first year closer Heath Bell, who was brilliant. With all of those arms returning, the bullpen figured to be one of the strengths of this team from day one.
There have been a couple of bumps in the road, as everyone gets their first couple of outings under their belt for 2010, but for the most part they have been as advertised, and have been the cornerstone of 4 of the Padres first 6 wins of the season. As a unit they have a 3-0 record and an N.L. 4th best 3.16 ERA.
- April 10th – 6 Padre relievers combine for 7 shutout innings, allowing only 2 hits while punching out 8 until the offense can push a run across in the 14th to give Pads a 5-4 victory.
- April 16th – Pads ‘pen inherits a 3-0 deficit, but puts up 4 scoreless, hitless, walkless innings, while striking out 5. Pads “O” scores 6 in final 3 frames to record 6-3 victory.
- April 17th – Bullpen handed a 2-0 lead in the 6th with 2 outs and 2 runners on. Bullpen strands the runners, and finishes with 3 1/3 scoreless to seal up the win, and extend the bullpen’s scoreless streak to 8 1/3.
- April 18th – Relief corp enters the game after 5 trailing 1-0. They allow 1 run to cross, but keep the game close until offense can get to the Diamondbacks bullpen for 5 in the 7th. Bell allows a run, but closes it out for his 3rd save in as many chances.
Heath Bell, Cesar Ramos, Edward Mujica, Tim Stauffer, Mike Adams, Luke Gregerson, and short time visitor Adam Russell (who will hopefully be back soon) have all been solid. Some have had one hiccup, but have recovered. Ramos and Stauffer have been especially pleasant surprises with both working out the bullpen essentially for the first time in their careers. Gallagher has struggled so far, but apparently will be given a little more time to get himself right.
This group may even get stronger soon as lefty Joe Thatcher is close to being ready to come back, which will put the Pads in the enviable position of having to decide whether or not they want t keep two lefthanders for Buddy Black to go to – something that a Padre manager hasn’t had the luxury of very often in recent years. With Thatcher on the way, and Russell pounding on the door to return with his 96MPH fastball, there is a healthy pressure to perform, and the talent to do it.
If there are no major injuries, there is no reason to think that this team of relievers can’t continue to close out late inning leads, and set the table for more dramatic and confidence building comebacks.