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Erlin leaves strong impression in final start

LOS ANGELES -- There's no way to exactly know right now where Robbie Erlin fits in the Padres' plans for 2016.

But based on the way he pitched in Saturday night's 2-1 loss to the Dodgers, along with a strong outing the last time out, it stands to reason he's put himself back on the team's radar.

Erlin allowed two runs over seven innings Saturday, getting three double-play balls, with no walks and four strikeouts. He worked fast, was efficient (86 pitches) and peppered the strike zone (61 strikes, 25 balls).

"He competed head-to-head with a Cy Young winner [Dodgers starting pitcher Zack Greinke] in this environment, playoff atmosphere," said Padres interim manager Pat Murphy.

"He was nothing short of sensational, and he didn't have his best stuff. Good changeup, good fastball command. He worked well with [catcher Austin Hedges]."

The start came on the heels of Erlin's last outing on Sept. 26 against the D-backs, in which he allowed two hits over seven scoreless innings.

"[It was] similar to last time, as far as being able to command the fastball," Erlin said. "Changeup felt pretty good, and curveball was in the mix again, which last time it wasn't really, so that was nice."

The other guy across the way, Greinke, was plenty good as well. He allowed a home run to Hedges but little else, improving to 19-3 and clinching the National League ERA title (1.66).

As for Erlin, he said he benefited from a conversation with teammate James Shields after allowing seven runs in three innings at Coors Field on Sept. 19.

"A lot of [the conversation] was seeing guys dive into the plate," Erlin said. "They get comfortable, to where you need to go inside, not just for strikes, but off the plate. I definitely took that into this start, mixing it up and keeping them guessing."

If nothing else, Erlin left the Padres with a positive impression heading into the offseason. What it all means, he doesn't know.

"It played out well, I guess," Erlin said. "We'll see how the offseason goes. There is really no telling. I just guess we'll wait and see."

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter and listen to his podcast.
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