MLB Season Preview 2013: San Diego Padres Bullpen

By Bill Negron
Christopher Hanewinckel USA Today Sports

The rumors were swirling a couple weeks ago when Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Rick Porcello was available for trade. He was reportedly offered to the San Diego Padres for Huston Street or Luke Gregorson. There were many pundits saying the Padres should jump at the offer. However, the Padres did not make that trade. They were not going to trade one of their main cogs to the bullpen to acquire a slightly above average starter. They made the right move.

If you have been a Padre fan for years going back to when Kevin Towers was the general manager, you know how he always valued the bullpen. He always had a unique way of piecing together stars and free agents to make the Padres bullpen good, year after year.

Towers was fired by San Diego in 2009 but it is nice to see that the current general manager of the Padres, Josh Byrnes, did not trade away either piece of a fine bullpen this year. There is nothing more demoralizing than a bullpen that cannot hold a lead or keep a team in the game because of a lack of a solid bullpen.

Let’s take a look at the Padres 2013 bullpen:

Strengths: The back end of the bullpen is solid and one of the best in baseball. The closer, Huston Street had an outstanding season in 2012 after being acquired in a trade from the Colorado Rockies in the 2011 offseason. Street went 2-1 last year with an ERA of 1.85 while posting 23 saves in 39 innings pitched. Street was selected as an all star for the first time in his career in 2102. The only downside with Street is that he made two separate trips to the disabled list last season.

Luke Gregerson makes up the other half of the back end of the San Diego bullpen. Gregerson was the player to be named later when the Padres sent shortstop Khalil Greene to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2009. So basically, the Padres stole this fine reliever from the Cardinals. Last year Gregerson was outstanding. He posted a 2.39 ERA in 77 games pitched. In 71 2/3 innings Gregerson struck out 72 while notching 9 saves. Gregerson is no longer a secret as he was named to the U.S.A. roster for the World Baseball Classic. He is one of the best set-up men in baseball. This will not be the last time you hear Gregerson’s name come up in trade rumors for sure as many teams feel he would make a great closer right now.

Weaknesses: The Padres only have one left-handed reliever in the bullpen as of right now. While this is not an unfamiliar sight to Padre fans, to be short on southpaws in the bullpen, it does limit manager Bud Black’s ability to match-up with the opponent depending upon the situation. At least the one left-hander the Padres have is a good one. Joe Thatcher posted a respectable 3.41 ERA in 55 appearances in 2012. Thatcher also posted a great year in 2010 as well.

The bullpen will use long-relievers Andrew Cashner and Anthony Bass, who are both young and could also start games if needed. To round out the bullpen, the Padres have two more right-handed pitchers: Brad Brach and Dale Thayer. Both had solid years in 2012. Thayer notched seven saves last season when Street was out.

Padre fans should feel good about this bullpen going into the 2013 season especially if San Diego’s closer Street can manage to stay off the disabled list.

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