Padres’ Bullpen: The Best Ever?
It seems silly, I know, to talk about a bunch of guys almost nobody has heard of and mention them as the best bullpen in baseball.
But how about going one better, and calling them the best and/or deepest bullpen ever?
Wait, wait, before you check to see if I’ve been spending too much time in the hot August sun, allow me to state my case for the current San Diego Padres’ relievers, or, as they apparently like to refer to themselves . . .the “Pen-itentiary.”
The best way isn’t to write about them. It is to simply list their numbers. So here they are heading into Monday night, complete with names, earned run averages and strikeout and walk totals:
Luke Gregerson — 2.45 ERA, 64 Ks, 9 BBs.
Edward Mujica — 2.61 ERA, 50 Ks, 4 BBs.
Mike Adams — 2.18 ERA, 46 Ks, 11 BBs.
Joe Thatcher — 1.64 ERA, 30Ks, 4 BBs.
Tim Stauffer — 0.83 ERA, 24Ks, 6 BBs
Heath Bell — 1.99 ERA, 58Ks, 18 BBs
Ryan Webb — 3.21 ERA, 31Ks, 14 BBs.
Now you tell me, was my statement really that crazy? Those stats aren’t just good, they are off the charts. The strikeout-to-walk ratio, in case you’re too lazy to add it up, is 273 to 66. And how about this one: As a group, these gentlemen have worked a total of 68 more innings than hits allowed. Now, that’s astounding.
Bell is, of course, the closer, the one All-Star people have heard of, with 30 saves, and Gregerson is the main set-up guy with 25 holds.
But what strikes you (timely term there, huh?) isn’t the quality as much as the quantity. Saying this bullpen is deep is like saying Tommy Lasorda is chubby. It is a bit of an understatement.
There have been lots of bullpens through the years that have captured the public’s imagination. Wild and crazy guys whose personalities were even more impressive than their fastballs.
This group has none of that. At least none most of us know about. This is the rare faceless bunch that just quietly goes along spewing out zeroes as if they were so many extra sunflower seeds.
The Padres, a Bud Black-managed team that rarely crashes through ESPN’s Yankees-Red Sox bias, are the story of the year in baseball at this point. With their low-rent payroll of about $40 million, they’ve somehow broken on top in the National West and stayed there all season.
They do it with one great every-day player, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, a good, but not overwhelming collection of young starting pitchers and the best/deepest bleeping bullpen anyone can remember.
Their starters keep them in the game for five or six innings, and then Mssrs. Mujica, Adams, Gregerson and Bell take over. The next night it is Stauffer, Thatcher and Webb bridging the way to the last couple of innings.
The names change, but the results don’t. If you think I’m kidding, start checking the daily box scores. It is really amazing to watch.
This bullpen is the most consistent thing to happen to San Diego since they started serving beer to sailors.
If nobody appreciates this bunch now, don’t worry. Just wait until October.
Should the Padres have enough offense to cruise into the playoffs, it will be, at long last, time to officially unlock the doors to the Pen-itentiary.
— Steve Bisheff