Padres call up up sidearming righty Yardley

August 21st, 2019

CINCINNATI -- realized the first half of his big league dream on Wednesday afternoon. At long last, the 29-year-old right-hander earned his callup to the Padres.

The other half of that dream? Earning his right to stay.

"This is obviously a moment unlike any other," said Yardley, a sidearming righty who posted a 2.63 ERA in 41 appearances for Triple-A El Paso this season. "I'm going to try and soak it in. But, yeah, I'm ready to compete for a job. I'm here to stay."

Despite the rocky debut in Wednesday's 4-2 loss -- three runs (one earned) in one-third of an inning -- it's entirely possible he does. The Padres won't keep a nine-man relief corps past Wednesday’s scheduled bullpen day. But they have plenty of other pitchers with options to send to the Minors.

More importantly, San Diego gave Yardley a precious 40-man roster spot. With an offseason roster crunch looming, the front office isn't in the business of doling those out to just anyone.

It's open audition time in the Padres 'pen, and Yardley is finally getting his chance. Only Kirby Yates has secured his 2020 place (though Matt Strahm, Andres Munoz and Jose Castillo, if healthy, are heavy favorites.)

If Yardley can establish himself as a reliable bullpen arm, his story will be a remarkable one. Undrafted out of Seattle University in 2013, Yardley began his career in independent ball. Given a shot in the Arizona Fall League in '15, he posted a 5.75 ERA. Last year, upon his promotion to El Paso, he posted a 5.40 mark.

"I had a lot of rock bottoms, times where I thought it was going to be over," Yardley said. "But I just loved playing the game. ... If somebody's willing to give me the opportunity, I'll keep pitching."

The Padres gave him that opportunity -- and his callup coincidentally falls on the birthdays of both his parents.

In seven Minor League seasons, Yardley has posted a 2.87 ERA. He only struck out seven batters per nine innings, but he mitigates that effect by keeping the ball in the park. Yardley has surrendered just 25 homers in his 503 1/3 professional innings -- a rate of 0.4 per nine innings.

This year, Yardley's performance has reached another level. In big league Spring Training, he didn't allow an earned run over nine appearances. Yardley was left off the Opening Day roster, and he struggled in April. But since the start of May, he's posted a 2.09 ERA in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.

"I just cleared my mind a little bit, said screw it, and threw, to be completely blunt," Yardley said. "I had fun, enjoyed it. You never know when this is going to end. Last year I thought way too much. This year, I said, 'Let's go.'"

To make room for Yardley, the Padres optioned outfielder to El Paso.

France on the fastball
With the Padres trailing by a run in the ninth on Tuesday, manager Andy Green made the decision to pinch-hit for with . Both are right-handed-hitting infielders, and Urias has been much sharper lately. France has more power, but he’s just 1-for-13 since his recall last week.

Afterward, Green explained the move, saying, "We were trying to find somebody that's getting on the heater a little bit better."

The numbers back his assertion. Against above-league-average fastball velocity, France is 10-for-28 (.357) this season, while Urias is just 3-for-23 (.130). Those samples are small, but they jibe with their skill sets from the Minor Leagues.

But Reds right-hander Raisel Iglesias stayed away from his high-octane fastball, instead punching out France on three straight sliders. France is just 1-for-11 on mid-80s breaking pitches this season. But Urias is just 1-for-8, and France's one hit was a home run off Noah Syndergaard.

In the end, Green opted for the power potential. His gamble didn't pay off.

Machado sits
Third baseman started Wednesday's game on the bench, the fourth time this season he's been out of the lineup. Two of the first three were merely rest days, while one was due to suspension.

Machado has scuffled a bit this month, posting a .483 OPS in August after a scorching hot June and July. Against a tough righty like Luis Castillo, on a muggy afternoon in Cincinnati, the Padres felt a day of rest would do Machado some good.