When you look at the possible starting rotation for the Padres, you get a little worried.
However, when you peek into the bullpen, your hopes start to rise up a little bit more. More specifically, when you look at who could potentially be wrapping up games for the Friars when the score is close.
Towards the deadline, the Padres were also able to grab another potential closer, this time from the Marlins. A man who, at the time, was ruled out for the season. We didn’t get to see this pitcher at all last season, but we knew what he was capable of. He made it in to the famous list of David Ortiz‘s top-five most difficult pitchers to face… Carter Capps.
With his weird delivery and legal toe drag, Capps brings something different to the Padres’ somewhat solid-looking bullpen. Capps was sidelined for the season after Tommy John surgery, which he had in the prior off-season. Before Capps injury and trade, the Marlins were looking to put him into the closer role over A.J. Ramos, who was looking pretty good at the time.
Capps most recent pitching stats come from the 2015 season where he had a solid 1.16 ERA and a scary 16.8 K/9 in 30 appearances. Capps also punched out 58 to only seven walks, and just four total earned runs were scored off him in his 31.0 innings pitched. In his career, Capps has only had four opportunities for a save, but he has blown all four of them, including two from the 2015 season. Despite his lack of closing experience, Capps is only 25, and his strikeout totals and low ratio stats make him a star candidate for late-in-game pitching opportunities.
As the season grows near, it is looking like the closer will be Brandon Maurer. He came up and did what Andy Green asked of him last season, and he put his heart into it. I had the opportunity to watch Brandon Maurer close out multiple games up close, and the amount of energy and heart that came off the mound was amazing. The only thing is, Maurer has been known to get blown up occasionally.
Despite that, Maurer has showed a lot more improvement, coming out of the ‘pen last season. In his 32 innings as closer, Maurer recorded 13 saves in 16 opportunities. Another thing to consider is his 2016 overall ERA was 4.25, but his ERA as a closer drops down to 3.09. That possibly shows that he is more comfortable as closer. Maurer also posted a career-best 9.3 K/9 in 2016, with 73 strikeouts to only 23 walks.
If Brandon Maurer, who won’t be a free agent until 2020, can use this season to learn how to keep his composure when runners get on late, then he will be a key piece to this Padres rebuild. At just 26 years old, he has the time to work out the flaws in his game and become a dominant closer for years to come.
Whether it be Capps to set up Maurer or Maurer to set up Capps, teams should be scared if they’re going into the bottom of the 7th or 8th without a lead. These two have the potential to turn into one of the deadliest and most entertaining one-two punches in MLB.