San Diego Padres Still Looking For Real Huston Street To Emerge

By Thom Tsang
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Huston Street may have health on his side (for now) after coming off the DL, but the San Diego Padres are still looking for their closer to show up.

But wait, what about the three saves that he’s already recorded in his four outings since coming back on June 15?

Okay, so it’s true: the Friars have had a pitcher named Huston Street come in during the ninth inning several times over the last week, and that pitcher has managed to get a few handshakes … but it just isn’t the All-Star that the team signed to a two-year extension in 2012, that’s all.

For one, that right-hander was not a well below-replacement -1.3 fWAR player with a brutal 2.96 HR/9 — read that again, that’s almost three home runs allowed every nine innings — and a far-too-lucky 4.44/1.32 ERA/WHIP, considering his 7.16 FIP.

No, this Street is a whole different animal.

This is that guy who has given up at least a hit in each of his four outings since returning from the DL, and who gave up a run on three hits, including a leadoff homer in Thursday’s low-leverage outing where he was asked to protect a four-run lead in the ninth against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

He might have struck out rookie sensation Yasiel Puig to end the game, but considering that he’d went five games prior without a K, and even that feat doesn’t seem so impressive.

In fact, Street’s strikeout totals itself is quite revealing in the worst of ways: he’s setting batters down with Ks at a meager 5.18 K/9 rate, less than half of his 10.85 rate in 2012. Combine that with the fact that h’es walking more batter than he did (2.96 BB/9 vs. 2.54 in 2012), and you’ve already got a pretty deadly combo … even without the home runs.

The issue here likely stems from his velocity, as his heater now sits at a career-low 87.8 mph average, compared to the already-low 88.9 last season. As a result, he’s unable to set up his breaking stuff, and is no longer missing bats (7.7 swinging strikes vs 13.9 percent in 2012). Opposing batters are teeing off at a 83.2 percent contact rate (69.3 last season), and at a career-high 25.3 percent line drive rate too … so they aren’t messing around.

If anything, the Padres have been given a bit of a reprieve by the baseball gods, who have given Street a .222 BABIP and a 96.2 percent strand rate which have stopped his numbers from spiraling out of control.

That’s not something that comes around too often, and if Padres are smart, they’ll look to take advantage of this temporary window of safety to start working in another option more regularly (Luke Gregorsen works) before things reach full-on disaster level.

And look, I managed to go through the whole thing without using the as-obvious-as-it-gets ‘Huston, we have a pr … nevermind.

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