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Breaking down the Padres' bullpen spots

MLB.com @AJCassavell

PEORIA, Ariz. -- There are more than twice as many bullpen candidates on the Padres' roster (17) as there are days remaining in camp (eight). Suffice it to say, a few decisions need to be made before Opening Day.

It seems likely the Padres carry seven relievers to start the season (though eight remains a possibility). Throughout the spring, manager Andy Green has given hints regarding his preferences for the final few bullpen places.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- There are more than twice as many bullpen candidates on the Padres' roster (17) as there are days remaining in camp (eight). Suffice it to say, a few decisions need to be made before Opening Day.

It seems likely the Padres carry seven relievers to start the season (though eight remains a possibility). Throughout the spring, manager Andy Green has given hints regarding his preferences for the final few bullpen places.

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Given that knowledge, here's a breakdown of the seven (maybe eight) spots in the Padres bullpen -- and what the club is looking for in each.

1. Brad Hand
Hand, the Padres' best relief weapon, will serve as closer in 2018, but he'll do so in a flexible capacity. If the matchups necessitate Hand, a left-hander, in an earlier frame, he could pitch then, too.

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2. Kirby Yates
For the first time in five big league seasons, Yates entered camp with his roster spot locked up. He's done nothing to shake the Padres' confidence, posting four scoreless innings this spring.

3. Craig Stammen
The veteran righty re-upped with the Padres for two years during the offseason. He was the club's go-to escape artist last season, and he'll serve in a similar capacity this year, likely appearing in high-leverage situations.

4. Kazuhisa Makita
It remains a serious question how Makita's super-submarine delivery and his low-80s fastball will play in the Majors. The Padres believe his six-pitch mix and his extreme deception could be a perfect counter to the launch-angle revolution -- especially against righties. They were confident enough to offer him a two-year big league deal.

5. A lefty specialist
Green has made it clear he'd prefer multiple left-handed options in his bullpen, leaving at least one space open for Buddy Baumann, Kyle McGrath, Robbie Erlin or Matt Strahm. Erlin remains a candidate for the rotation, and he's never served in a specialist role, making him unlikely. Strahm could fit the bill, but the Padres are mulling whether to stretch him into a starting pitcher in the Minor Leagues. If they do, that would leave McGrath and Baumann as the two traditional lefty relief options, and the Padres could end up choosing between them.

6. A long man
Jordan Lyles has already moved to the bullpen after struggling in his attempt to make the rotation. Erlin and Chris Young are also candidates, should they miss out on a starting job. But don't write off righty sidearmer Adam Cimber, whose adjustments prior to last season have worked very effectively against left-handed hitters. He hasn't surrendered a run in eight appearances, allowing just four hits with six strikeouts and one walk.

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7. The last piece
Here's where things really get crowded: in theory, 13 pitchers are contenders for the last available spot. Most prominent among them are right-handers Phil Maton, Carter Capps and Colten Brewer. Given Maton's body of work as a rookie, he probably has the slimmest of edges right now. But he'd also have to beat out Baumann or McGrath -- and possibly both. (It's hard to see the Padres using the final spot to add a non-roster reliever to their 40-man, which could rule out Cimber, Robert Stock, Jonathan Aro and Eric Yardley. But that's not a hard-and-fast rule.)

8. An extra piece?
Green has said repeatedly that he'd prefer to open the season with seven relievers, especially given the club's off-day following its opening series against Milwaukee. A handful of roster restrictions might force Green's hand. Capps is out of options. Lyles signed a guaranteed deal in the offseason. Young has Major League protection written into his Minors contract. The only likely scenario in which the Padres carry eight relievers, is one in which they look to hang onto a pitcher who would otherwise be subject to waivers.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

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