Strahm, others to bolster Padres' strong 'pen

Hudson, Lamet expected to join relief corps in coming weeks

August 4th, 2021

OAKLAND -- The Trade Deadline came and went and the foundation of the Padres’ starting rotation remained the same, but the pitching staff as a whole still stands to improve.

Beginning with the activation of left-hander off the injured list on Tuesday, the Padres are lined up to incorporate several dynamic relievers in the coming weeks, adding further ammunition to one of the league’s best bullpens.

"We believe that’s a group that potentially is going to get stronger for us these last two months as we wind down the regular season,” said manager Jayce Tingler.

Strahm, who underwent surgery to repair his right patellar tendon last October, was phenomenal in his three rehab appearances with Triple-A El Paso, allowing no runs across 3 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts to no walks. With Strahm returning, the Padres will have another left-handed arm to complement a relief corps that already features lefties Drew Pomeranz and Tim Hill.

Even with those southpaws, the Padres have certainly missed Strahm, who developed into one of the foundational pieces of San Diego’s bullpen last season. In 2020, Strahm allowed six runs across 20 2/3 innings (2.61 ERA), holding lefties to a slash line of .116/.156/.256 in 45 plate appearances.

Along with Strahm, the Padres are lined up to add recently acquired closer Daniel Hudson and converted starter Dinelson Lamet to the bullpen down the stretch.

Hudson, who was added via trade from the Nationals, has returned to form after last season’s down year, allowing just eight earned runs across 32 2/3 innings (2.20 ERA) with 48 strikeouts to seven walks.

Tingler did not provide a definite date for when Hudson, currently on the COVID-19 injured list, will join the team, but said he hopes it will be in the next couple of days.

While Hudson’s activation could come as soon as this week, Lamet will begin a rehab assignment with Low-A Lake Elsinore after throwing a simulated inning at Petco Park on Aug. 1. Lamet joining the bullpen wasn’t expected coming into 2021 after he finished fourth in Cy Young Award voting last season, but Lamet stands to provide even more versatility in such a role.

The right-hander has made only two relief appearances at the Major League level, both of which have come this season, but the Padres could very well use Lamet’s experience as a starter to slot him into a multi-inning role.

With so many arms available, the question becomes who pitches in which situation.

“You’ve got maybe two or three winning combinations, whether the score’s tied or you’re up a run or two,” Tingler said. “We believe we’re going to be able to add more winning matchups and a ton more flexibility through the game.”

Regardless of how the roles shake out, the additions of Strahm, Hudson and Lamet give San Diego arguably the best bullpen in baseball.

Entering Tuesday, San Diego’s bullpen had the lowest ERA in the league (2.90) and ranked fifth in FIP (3.85). Even without Strahm, Hudson and Lamet, the bullpen is already headlined by the likes of Pomeranz and Mark Melancon and features Hill, Emilio Pagán, Austin Adams and Craig Stammen. Top to bottom, San Diego’s relief corps is rivaled by few.

The inability to add another quality starting pitcher into the fold does undoubtedly hurt; it's worse that the Padres not only didn’t get Max Scherzer, but saw him be shipped off to the rival Dodgers. But with the additions the team projects to make in the coming weeks, the depth of the bullpen will be invaluable for a team with championship aspirations.

“Just being able to add more depth to a really strong unit down there is going to create more versatility for us,” Tingler said.

Cronenworth named #HeartAndHustle winner
All-Star Jake Cronenworth was named the Padres’ Heart and Hustle Award winner, the league announced Tuesday.

The Heart and Hustle Award is voted on by former players and honors active players who “demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game.”

Cronenworth has been one of the league’s most valuable infielders this season, slashing .279/.351/.477 with 15 home runs while providing elite defense at multiple positions. Entering Tuesday, Cronenworth had a 3.6 fWAR, which ranked seventh among all players in the National League.

Along with Cronenworth, recently acquired second baseman Adam Frazier was selected as the Pirates’ Heart and Hustle Award winner as well.

Frazier, who was named an All-Star for the first time this season, entered Tuesday leading the league with 129 hits and was slashing .315/.377/.434 in 104 games.