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Erlin solid in final '18 start, but Padres fall in 12

September 26, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO -- Robbie Erlin's 2018 campaign probably shouldn't be defined by numbers. The 27-year-old left-hander missed nearly two seasons due to Tommy John surgery, yet he returned this year and quickly carved himself an important role on the Padres' staff.But baseball loves its numbers, so here's one that sheds

SAN FRANCISCO -- Robbie Erlin's 2018 campaign probably shouldn't be defined by numbers. The 27-year-old left-hander missed nearly two seasons due to Tommy John surgery, yet he returned this year and quickly carved himself an important role on the Padres' staff.
But baseball loves its numbers, so here's one that sheds some light on the pitcher Erlin has become: Following his performance in the Padres' 5-4, 12-inning loss to the Giants on Tuesday at AT&T Park, Erlin will finish with 88 strikeouts and only 12 walks. That 7.33 strikeout-to-walk ratio is the best single-season mark in Padres history for a pitcher with at least 100 innings.
"There were some mechanical adjustments I made through the rehab process, and that helped command a little bit," Erlin said. "But ultimately, it's a mindset. ... I wanted to minimize walks, and if I was going to get beat, get beat with the bat. "
Erlin allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits while striking out four and walking none.

The Giants -- who were out of bench pieces -- walked off in the 12th inning when Madison Bumgarner, arguably the game's best hitting pitcher, smashed a sharp pinch-hit single under the outstretched glove of William Myers at third base.
The Padres rallied to tie the game in the ninth, when Franmil Reyes singled home Myers. Reyes finished 3-for-5, and he nearly helped put San Diego on top in the 12th. But after his leadoff double, Hunter Renfroe's sharp grounder hit Reyes' foot, stifling a potential rally.
"It was a ground ball to the middle," Reyes said. "I didn't see that it was that close to me, and it got to me really quick. It shouldn't happen."

The 12th inning marked a sour conclusion to Erlin's final start of the year. Barring an unexpected relief appearance over the weekend, he will finish with a 4.21 ERA and a strikeout-to-walk ratio that puts him above Kevin Brown (1998), David Wells (2004), Jake Peavy ('05) and Greg Maddux ('07) among the top five in franchise history.
Erlin began the year in the bullpen, where he posted a 2.05 ERA in 27 appearances. He wasn't nearly as sharp in his 12 starts. But his 6.23 ERA over those dozen outings was inflated by a few poor starts.
"Really, I'm just glad I made it through the season healthy, no hiccups on that end," Erlin said. "Going into the offseason, I'll get better and come back ready to go. ... There's no question marks going into it, as far as health, as far as innings."
Next spring, Erlin will enter camp three years removed from surgery, with an impressive bounce-back season to build upon. He'll be thrust into a crowded rotation race, where all five jobs are available. If he doesn't win a spot, there's a place for him in the bullpen.
"He's been versatile, succeeded in a lot of different capacities for us," Padres manager Andy Green said. "He goes into the offseason kind of knowing he's pitched his way onto the team. What role? We'll figure it out in Spring Training."
Myers has shown some flashes of quality at third base since transitioning there in mid-August. But for the most part, he's struggled, and Bumgarner's walk-off single was another example.
And make no mistake: It was a hit. Bumgarner mashed the ball at 104 mph. But Myers had a play and couldn't quite make it.
"I was there," Myers said. "I was in the right position. I just missed a hop."

It was a sloppy defensive night for the Padres, who committed three errors, including two by rookie shortstop Javy Guerra. The other came courtesy of Myers, who misplayed a ball in the seventh that turned into two bases for Gorkys Hernandez.
Myers was caught between forehand and backhand, and he settled on the latter a bit too late. The ball caromed off his glove and into foul ground.
"It's been fun, but it's definitely been trying as well," Myers said of his move to third. "I'm just trying to keep getting better every day. I had a game today that really exposed me on a few things. The only thing I can do is keep working at it and try to get better."
Save for Oakland's Marcus Semien and Atlanta's Freddie Freeman, San Diego shortstop Freddy Galvis has played more innings than anyone in the Majors this season. He's going to be the only player to play a full 162-game slate in 2017 and '18.
And he's still going strong. Galvis posted his second four-hit night against the Giants in the span of a week. He's saved his best month for last, hitting .288/.337/.450 in September.
Galvis is slated to become a free agent this offseason, and the Padres have a decision to make regarding how much they'd like to bring him back. He's leaving a positive impression.

Erlin's final out was not for the faint of heart. With two outs in the fifth, Evan Longoria smashed a 99-mph liner back toward Erlin's face. The left-hander got his glove up in time and made an impressive snag, ending the threat.

"I know he can hit. We all know he can hit. But so can the guys behind him, flipping the order back to the top. Never an intention to walk him, but there's definitely respect for his bat." -- Green, on whether he considered walking Bumgarner to set up a potential double play
The Padres have scheduled a bullpen day for the series finale, and Luis Perdomo is slated to take the ball first. He's expected to work about three innings, though that could change based on the game situation. Perdomo has taken a step back this season, posting a 7.56 ERA in 11 games (nine starts). But he'll look to finish strong on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. PT at AT&T Park. Casey Kelly will start for the Giants.

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