Munoz quicker than Hoffman, Goose or Yates

At 20, flamethrower is youngest Padres pitcher to earn a save

August 30th, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Padres, as an organization, have a proud history of closers. They welcomed another into the fold on Thursday night.

With unavailable, 20-year-old right-hander Andres Munoz was called upon to lock down the Padres’ 5-3 series-opening victory against the Giants at Oracle Park. It was Munoz's first career save, and he made some franchise history in the process.

At 20 years, 230 days old, Munoz became the youngest Padres pitcher to record a save, surpassing the mark set by Lance McCullers in 1985. He's the youngest hurler to record a save for any team since 20-year-olds and both did so for the 2015 Blue Jays.

"I was a little nervous at first," Munoz said. "But after that first strikeout, I started to calm down and gained some more confidence."

Munoz began his night by striking out Buster Posey and Kevin Pillar to start the bottom of the ninth. The Giants then mounted a threat when Brandon Crawford worked a two-out walk and Stephen Vogt followed with an RBI double to cut the deficit to two. But Munoz escaped by getting Donovan Solano to bounce weakly to shortstop.

He’ll have to wait until Yates' time is up, but Munoz -- whose fastball touches 102 mph and whose slider has baffled big league hitters since his arrival -- is considered by many to be the team’s closer of the future. After the game, Padres manager Andy Green tempered that talk a bit.

"There's a lot of work for him to be in that spot over and over again," Green said. "We're very encouraged with what we've seen early in his career and the way he's handled every challenge given to him.

"He's doing everything to check every box right now. Just going to let him take it an outing at a time right now, but he's on the right path."

Munoz has always lit up radar guns with his fastball. But his recent addition of a slider completed his closer-caliber arsenal. He used the pitch to whiff both Posey and Pillar.

"At first I didn't think it was a pitch I really needed," Munoz said. "In the Minor Leagues, they didn't really hit my fastball all that much. But once I started working on it and I saw that it could help me quite a bit -- that it was going to help me get up to the big leagues -- I worked on it. Little by little, it got better."

It has evolved into a legitimate Major League out pitch, which has allowed Munoz to thrive since his July callup. In 18 appearances this year, he owns a 1.86 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings.

On Thursday night, Munoz added a save to that stat line. Presumably, it won't be his last.