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Could Maurer, Hand become tandem closers?

Green hinted in spring training he could use more than one closer
San Diego Padres

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

I expect to see Brad Hand closing more games for the Padres.

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

I expect to see Brad Hand closing more games for the Padres.

I also expect to see Brandon Maurer back in the role that has essentially been his since the Padres traded Fernando Rodney to Miami last June 30.

Let's be honest. Maurer has struggled recently as the Padres closer. Actually, he had just struggled until his excellent eighth inning Wednesday night against the Mets in New York. Going into Wednesday night, Maurer had allowed 10 runs on 12 hits and three walks in a span of 3 2/3 innings over five appearances that included two blown saves and two losses.  

That is a struggle. Any time your earned run average balloons from 2.03 to 6.88 in a span of five games, you are struggling.   

But Maurer had a similar run last year that skewed his final stats. His final ERA was 4.52. But his ERA over his final 41 appearances was 2.59. He had 13 saves in 15 attempts - an 87 percent mark.   

Maurer can save games. So can Hand.

And Hand is some kind of beast. Last season he had a 2.92 ERA while leading the National League with 82 appearances, which was one shy of equaling the Padres single-season record. This season, Hand's ERA is 1.73. Opposing hitters were hitting .165 against Hand entering Wednesday's game. Hand has 33 strikeouts and a 1.08 WHIP in 25 innings. That's 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings.

Plus, there's an added bonus to using both Maurer and Hand as closers. Maurer is right-handed, Hand is left-handed - although each has had success against hitters from the other side of the plate.   

Using both Hand and Maurer as closers enables him to contour his bullpen for the end of games.   

Say the Padres have the lead against a team with three right-handed hitters in the eighth and two left-handed hitters looming in the ninth. It then makes sense to use Maurer in the eighth and Hand in the ninth.  

Or, say, going with the hotter hand, which, pardon the pun, is Hand right now. 

The next months could be interesting. Hand is good enough to have a lot of teams already kicking tires about the durable and successful Hand in trade talks. Hand might be the Padres best trade chip over the next two-plus months. So it's not a bad idea to show teams that he has the psyche to be a closer - which he surely showed Wednesday night. 

So, is there now a debate over who is the Padres' closer?  

No, I'm more inclined to believe that Green is more inclined to use both depending on the circumstances.      


--C Luis Torrens was 2-for-4 Wednesday night with a double and two runs scored. The first two-hit game of his career raised Torrens' batting average to .133 from .077. Remember, he's a 21-year-old Rule 5 draft pick -- with no past experience above low Single-A -- playing perhaps the most demanding position in the game. He's now securely the backup to Austin Hedges.   

--Padres starting pitchers have averaged exactly three innings per start over the last tour of the rotation. It's that high only because Clayton Richard threw a complete game Sunday. The breakdown: Jered Weaver (two-thirds of an inning), Luis Perdomo (three innings), Richard (nine innings), Jhoulys Chacin (two-thirds of an inning) and Jarred Cosart (2 2/3 innings Wednesday night).   

--RF Hunter Renfroe is hitting .306 (11-for-36) with five doubles, four homers, five walks, 10 RBIs and nine runs scored over his last 10 games to raise his batting average from .204 to .225. Renfroe's on-base percentage over the 10 games is .390 with a .778 slugging percentage for a 1.168 OPS.   

--2B Yangervis Solarte is 4-for-7 with a double, two walks and three RBIs the past two nights in his first games this season as the No. 2 hitter in the Padres' batting order.   

--Rule 5 rookie Allen Córdoba was 2-for-4 Wednesday night and is now hitting an even .300 on the season. Córdoba is 13-for-34 (.382) since May 8 to raise his average 78 points from .222.  

San Diego Padres