Kela (forearm) to IL; SD recalls righty Diaz

May 8th, 2021

Right-hander was placed on the 10-day injured list ahead of the Padres' 7-1 loss to the Giants on Saturday because of a right forearm strain, and righty was recalled from Triple-A El Paso.

The move is yet another test of depth for a bullpen that has a razor-thin margin of error to maintain its exceptional performance. Kela is the 11th Padres pitcher currently on the IL.

The Padres not only have had a string of injuries among pitchers, but they have also had a starting pitcher work through at least six full innings in only eight of their first 34 games. Manager Jayce Tingler has used his bullpen for 144 2/3 innings, second most in the Majors, behind Tampa Bay’s 149 2/3 entering play on Saturday.

The bullpen has lived up to the challenge so far. But a breakdown of team ERA by inning (entering Saturday) reveals where the cracks are showing:

9th inning: 1.29 ERA, third in MLB
8th inning: 2.18 ERA, sixth in MLB
7th inning: 1.64 ERA, second in MLB
6th inning: 5.18 ERA, 22nd in MLB

Entering Saturday, when Tingler has tried to push a starting pitcher through six innings, it has been so-so, producing a 4.50 ERA. When he calls on the bullpen, it has been worse -- 5.47 ERA -- certainly not the lockdown results San Diego has gotten from Emilio Pagán, Drew Pomeranz and Mark Melancon in the late frames.

Overall, the Padres’ 2.74 bullpen ERA is the best in the National League and third best in the Majors, entering Saturday. The bullpen and baserunning have been the team’s strengths in the early season. But with Kela now unavailable, Tingler loses options in both the late and middle innings, and the likes of Craig Stammen (14 games) and Tim Hill (18 games) will continue to face a demanding workload.

Kela departed the Padres’ 5-4 loss to the Giants on Friday night at Oracle Park with right forearm tightness after six pitches in the seventh inning.

Diaz has made one appearance with the Padres this season, a spot start Monday in which he threw three scoreless innings against Pittsburgh.

Nola starts
Catcher Austin Nola was in the starting lineup Saturday -- a day game following a night game -- despite behind hit by a pitch Friday night on his left hand and developing a large bruise. He opened the season on the IL because of a broken middle finger on that hand. Nola brought home the Padres' lone run on a fielder's choice in the fifth inning.

Honorary bat girl
Across Major League Baseball on Sunday -- Mother’s Day -- home teams are recognizing honorary bat girls to highlight extraordinary efforts to support the fight against breast cancer. Because the Padres are on the road this weekend, they celebrated their 2021 honoree, Kellie Sullivan, last Monday at Petco Park.

Diagnosed with cancer in February 2020, Sullivan was declared cancer free in August after treatment that included a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. While still undergoing chemo, Sullivan partnered with the Padres Pedal the Cause cancer research fundraiser to lead its World Without Cancer Day virtual spin class.