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Edward Olivares Jersey

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For many franchises, spending any amount of time discussing the 28th-ranked prospect isn’t worth the time and effort. However, the San Diego Padres farm system presents a different case, seeing as Edward Olivares, the Padres 28th-ranked prospect, is a top 15-20 prospect on most other teams. He is coming off a fairly successful season with the Lake Elsinore Storm, but will we see him suit up with the Amarillo Sod Poodles?

Olivares came to San Diego via Toronto when the Padres traded infielder Yangervis Solarte to the Blue Jays for Olivares and Jared Carkuff. Carkuff was later released, but Olivares showcased his speed and power in Lake Elsinore for 129 games.

His final stat line included a .277 average, .321 on-base percentage, 25 doubles, 10 triples, and 12 home runs. He swiped 21 bags, converting on 72% of his stolen base attempts.

The 22-year-old outfielder is currently spending the offseason in his home country of Venezuela where he is playing with the Tigres de Aragua. In 24 games, Olivares is hitting .337 with a .402 OBP, two doubles, two triples, and two home runs. He has converted five of six stolen base attempts and ranks among the league leaders in several offensive categories.

During the MiLB regular season, Olivares hit .281 vs righties and .261 vs lefties, however, that split has widened in Venezuela. He is currently hitting .370 against RHP and .211 LHP. Looking back over his splits over the course of his minor league career, Olivares has a history of struggling to hit left-handed pitching. Just something to watch with him.

The question now becomes, will the Padres add him to the 40-man roster before the upcoming deadline to protect Rule-5 draft eligible prospects? Sam Dykstra of MiLB.com recently published this piece taking a quick look at every top 30 prospect who is eligible for the draft. Maybe it is just my reading of the San Diego Padres outlook section, but it seems like Sam believes that the Padres will lose one or more of their five top-30 prospects.

There are plenty of names that can be removed from the current 40-man and the Padres are believed to be a franchise that will be active on the trade market this offseason, including current rumors swirling around Maikel Franco and Noah Syndergaard. San Diego can make room for Olivares. He is a multi-tool outfielder that has the potential to be a major league contributing outfielder.

Josh Naylor Jersey

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Last week, outfielder Josh Naylor was interviewed by Gwynn & Chris of 97.3 THE FAN—an altogether great radio program in the afternoon drivetime hours.

I was excited to hear Josh interview because, from what I’ve seen, he’s got a fiery personality, is Canadian, and, well, doesn’t exactly look like a physical Adonis. That last point—that of Josh’s physique—was actually touched on by Tony Gwynn Jr., and the results were…somewhat awkward.

Gwynn: “One of the things that to me is uncanny watching you swinging the bat is that you have a lot of similarities to Prince Fielder…Have you heard that comparison before?”

Naylor, sounding uncomfortable: Um, yeah I have. Especially before my professional career, I got a lot of comps to him and stuff, and, you know, bigger hitters like that, but it is what it is—I don’t try to hit like him or be like him.

This was just one cringe-worthy moment in what was altogether a great interview (available below), but man did I want to crawl into the glovebox of my Scion listening to that exchange. Check it out around the 5:00 mark.

What’s most obvious about the back-and-forth is that Josh Naylor has been asked a lot about his appearance—and that interviewers, like Gwynn, try to soften the blow of the real question by comparing Naylor to, in Naylor’s words, “bigger” hitters like Fielder.

But let’s call it what it is: Naylor is chunky, yo.

And you know what else? Mans can hit.
Loving the skin you’re in

First, let me advocate for my use of the word “chunky”. Some people would call Naylor “fat”, but “fat” is almost universally an epithet used to make people feel shame and, in our tolerance-minded times, we will steer way clear of making our young outfielder feeling bad about his girthy frame.

“Chunky”, meanwhile, has better associations. Peanut Butter can be chunky. Rocky Road is chunky. The audio mixing on Portishead’s Dummy record could be described as chunky.

I will admit that there is one place where the word “fat” does have positive connotations, e.g. “fat stacks of cash”—which is exactly what our 6’1, 225-lb outfielder is going to make some day if he keeps hitting at his current pace.

In the second half, the 22-year-old lefty is hitting .276 with 5 HRs and a palatable 2:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Most importantly, the “Mississauga Masher” has shown an ability to hit situationally—something few Padres have succeeded at this year.
Simple approach, great results

Take a look at this at-bat from last night’s game:

Facing a right-side-heavy shift, the rookie Naylor does exactly what a professional hitter should do—just a nice, simple game of “Pepper” the other way. Since July 5th, Naylor is hitting .326 in at-bats where the defense has the shift on him. He seems to stick with the old adage of ”When you put the ball in play, good things happen”.

Of course, putting the ball in play has long been Naylor’s modus operandi. The big boy from north of the border struck out just 30 times in 223 Triple-A at-bats this year, and holds a 1.70:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 1700+ minor league at-bats—pretty solid marks in today’s swing-happy culture.

So call Josh Naylor whatever you wish—fat, chunky, girthy, big-boned, body-swollen, a hefty lefty, rotund, portly, or plump.

Just make sure you also call him what he is: a hitter.

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Wil Myers has had a bumpy San Diego Padres career that has included an All-Star appearance when they hosted the MId-Summer Classic in 2016, but after that season he has struggled.

The big story for him is his strikeouts. It seemed like he was striking out at least once every game, which meant a majority of the time he was an easy out in the middle of the lineup.

The Padres even tried to bench him to let him just refocus and get some extra practice in off of the curveball machine, but that didn’t even work.

He seems lost in the outfield at times, and he can’t go back to first base with Eric Hosmer there for the foreseeable future.

So, with that said I think the Padres should just eat his contract and trade him to another team because it seems to me like he is hurting the team more than he is helping them.

The only tricky part about eating his $83 million contract is that in order to actually eat the contract, there has to be a team that is willing to take him on, which is most likely going to be the front office’s biggest question.

If the Padres were to find a team for Myers, they would at the very least be able to save $20-$30 million to either save or spend on some free agents in the offseason like a Gerrit Cole.

People bring up the argument that the San Diego Padres don’t want to eat his big contract, but Wil Myers is not performing and is a hole in the lineup which means they are essentially eating his contract anyway so they might as well trade him to another team.

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Centerfielder Manuel Margot has played himself back into the conversation for the San Diego Padres, per MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell.

If it seems like Margot has been around forever, that’s because he’s not only in his third season as a regular contributor in San Diego, but before that he was a key piece in the trade that sent Craig Kimbrel to the Red Sox – after which he instantly became the top-rated prospect in the Padres’ system by MLB.com. He was the 26th-ranked prospect in the game at the start of 2016 when he looked like a potential future star in center, batting a projectable .263/.313/.409 as a 22-year-old rookie.

The Padres have had so many prospects enter the national conversation since that 2015 blockbuster that Margot has faded well into the background, not only on the national level but for the Padres as well. As it stands today, Margot’s career line of .251/.303/.394 doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence as the centerfielder of the future.

Still, he’s remarkably only 24-years-old, and as Cassavell points out, for a little over a month now, he’s raked. Since June 23, he’s holding a .260/.387/.519 line. Consider positive career defensive ratings in center (19 DRS, 11.8 UZR), and Margot may yet contribute to the next contender in San Diego.

Despite San Diego’s deep farm system, they don’t necessarily have their next centerfielder bookmarked. That plays in Margot’s favor, but it might also make the Padres all the more proactive in seeking an outside solution. Unless he can consistently put together quality results against right-handers, he’s more likely pegged for a future as a fourth outfielder, whether in San Diego or elsewhere.

The Padres best bet is to play out the string for the remainder of 2019 and hope he does enough to improve his stock for a potential offseason trade. His youth is encouraging, but he’s also approaching his first season of arbitration, making 2019 a put-up-or-shut-up season for Margot. His first time through arbitration won’t break the bank, but it does change his valuation moving forward. Another couple of months like his last, however, and Margot could change that valuation once again.

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A flurry of moves on Thanksgiving eve signaled that the prospect-hoarding San Diego Padres can afford to be impatient.

Late Wednesday morning, a number of Milwaukee Brewers turned Padres and vice versa. First, San Diego dealt infielder Luis Urías and left-hander Eric Lauer to Milwaukee for righty Zach Davies and outfielder Trent Grisham.

The Padres also reportedly signed lefty Drew Pomeranz, who was lights out as a reliever for the Brewers down the stretch this year, on a free-agent contract.

Adding Pomeranz, 31, and Davies, 26, provides a veteran presence to a bullpen and rotation littered with some names that currently occupy top prospect lists. And Grisham, who filled in nicely for Christian Yelich but could’ve potentially been haunted by a game-changing error in the wild card game, bolsters the depth of a veteran outfield. Lauer was quickly replaced and didn’t do much to separate himself from the next wave of San Diego’s very talented pitching prospects.

But giving up on Urías so quickly means that the Padres are exiting the rebuild stage and fine-tuning their major league roster to win now. Which makes sense because a team 13 years removed from their last National League West title and hasn’t finished better than fourth in the division since 2014 should be moving with urgency.

San Diego graduated a number of the game’s best prospects the past few seasons. The most notable among them being Rookie of the Year finalist Fernando Tatis Jr. and Chris Paddack, the fireballing right-hander who went from Class A Advanced to ace of the staff within a year. The Padres still entered the season with nearly a dozen players listed among the top prospects in baseball and traded for more at the deadline.

Urías, 22, was part of that group when the year began. A natural second baseman with experience at shortstop, he was considered among baseball’s best 30 prospects after he batted no lower than .296 in five minor league seasons.

But at this time last year, Urías entered his first offseason as a major leaguer whose debut didn’t come close to approaching his minor-league success. He compiled a .221 batting average and .649 OPS in 83 total games in the majors.

Urías was young enough and had the past success to earn a little extra patience. Especially from a team that’s building around young talent. The slow start was easy to understand, but it wasn’t the only thing working against him.

San Diego has already proved willing to buck convention to reward success and move on quickly from what’s not working.

The long-term, big-money deals with Eric Hosmer and Manny Machado were signs the Padres’ rebuild wouldn’t rely solely on prospects. They also showed a willingness to skip the line in development should a player earn their spot, considering neither Tatis nor Paddack played a game at Triple-A.

They still also have one of baseball’s best farm systems with a number of players in the pipeline that can play Urías’ position.

The two best, CJ Abrams and Xavier Edwards, are still a couple of years from the big leagues. Edwards made it to the California League and batted .322 overall in his first full season. Abrams, a regular shortstop and the sixth overall pick in June, batted .393 in his first 34 pro games.

There’s a fair chance the Padres look outside the organization to add the final piece to what could potentially be the best infield in baseball. Mike Moustakas, Didi Gregorius, Starlin Castro, Jonathan Schoop and Howie Kendrick are veteran free agents that should be attainable on short-term deals. But the Padres proved they probably want more than a player that could bridge the gap to Edwards or Abrams.

The move to Milwaukee joins Urías with another former top second base prospect, Keston Hiura. Orlando Arcia’s disappointing offensive production —1.2 oWAR over the past four seasons — will likely place the versatile Urías at shortstop in Milwaukee.

Davies went 10-7 last year and led the Brewers, who did not produce a single pitcher that qualified for an ERA title, with 159 1/3 innings pitched. His 3.55 ERA was a career-best and the lowest among Milwaukee’s regular group of starters.

The Brewers don’t possess much pitching depth, and Davies’ third year of arbitration eligibility comes in 2021. Urías is the prize for Milwaukee in the deal, and acquiring him came at the price of arguably their most reliable starter.

There are a lot of moving pieces still left to pin down for a Brewers team that booked consecutive playoff appearances. San Diego earned their Thanksgiving relevance Wednesday, but there’s still a lot of work to do before they’ll be a topic of conversation around Halloween.

Fernando Tatis Jr. Jersey

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Awards season has officially begun with Gold Gloves given out on Sunday to baseball’s premier defenders where the San Diego Padres came up empty-handed.

On Monday, Major League Baseball revealed the finalists for the four major awards from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, which include MVP, Manager of the Year, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year.

The San Diego Padres were represented among the finalists by their beloved rookie shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. — up for 2019 Rookie of the Year.

The nomination is a surprise to few, if any, due to Tatis’ unforgettable rookie season which included jaw-dropping plays all over the field.

At the plate, Tatis Jr. finished his season with a .317 average, 22 homers, and 53 RBI.

Defensively, he made diving plays, impossible throws, and leaping grabs that one could only shake their head at. He was easily Manny Machado‘s equal defensively, which is almost an impossible comparison when thought about.

The base paths is where Tatis really separated himself from the ordinary, however.

He scored multiple times while being at second on groundballs in the infield, including one to the pitcher against the Giants in San Francisco.

The youngster tagged up from 3rd and scored on a pop up to the 2nd baseman that was a step off the infield dirt.

His best trick, though, was escaping a pickle that saw him avoid a tag going back to first that could have landed him a role in The Matrix.

In August, however, after only 84 games, the 20-year-old Tatis was shut down for the season by the organization due to lower back issues.

The announcement ended the chance at a playoff run for the Padres as a team, and also ended some chances at records and awards that Tatis was well on his way to winning if healthy.

One of those very easily could have been the Rookie of the Year award, but he will likely lose votes due to the 78 missed games.

Likely, it will go to Pete Alonso of the New York Mets, who had an excellent and historic year of his own.

Alonso finished with 55 home runs (a rookie record) and 120 RBI.

A full season of Fernando Tatis Jr. against Alonso’s monster power numbers and Mike Soroka‘s 13 wins and 2.68 ERA would have made the NL Rookie of the Year race a lot more interesting than it is likely to turn out.

Win or lose at Monday night’s award ceremony, it is Tatis Jr. who has won the hearts of San Diego’s fans with his energy, his passion, and his other-worldly skills.

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Eric Hosmer will forever be remembered as one of the fundamental elements that came together to produce the Royals World Series teams of 2014 and 2015. He hit in the meat of the order every day and he played above average first base defense. He was a leader on those championship squads. Fans adored him. And, the Royals handled letting Hosmer leave in free agency as well as they possibly could have.

Hosmer’s final season for the Royals was very impressive. He played in every game. He hit 25 homers. His on base-plus-slugging percentage stayed up near .900 almost the entire season. He hit .318. And we still allowed him to walk in free agency. And, even after his excellent 2017 season, that was the proper move.

When Eric Hosmer came up, in 2011, to a big-league club that was losing 91 games and he hit for an OPS of .800, Royals fans were thrilled. He hit almost 50 extra-base hits in less than 130 games as a 21-year-old and finished 3rd in Rookie of the Year voting. He also hit ground balls in half of his at-bats.

Eric Hosmer was comfortable as a big leaguer from the minute he stepped on the infield dirt at Kauffman Stadium. He would become the first baseman for a team that won back to back American League pennants. But, for those of us who thought his 21-year-old season was just a taste of what Hosmer would do, we would ultimately be disappointed. His rookie season will wind up being one of the better seasons of his career.

Some year to year fluctuations need be assumed when trying to forecast offensive numbers for Eric Hosmer. His batting average has been as low as .232 and as high as .318. But a reasonable expectation for a Hosmer season is probably hitting .280 with 20 homers and an OPS around .750. And those are not terrible numbers. They are, however, imminently replaceable for a first baseman.

Ryan O’Hearn came out of the gate in his first season mashing everything and then he came crashing back to Earth this year. But he and Hosmer have remarkably similar numbers over their last 150 games. Compare the slashes of .265/.310/.425/.735 and .216/.304/.440/.744. One guy gets a lot more base hits while the other one walks more and hits more extra-base hits. Their contribution is ultimately comparable. And neither one of those are the numbers of a guy you want playing first base every game.

I do not write this to bash Eric Hosmer, he will always be special to those of us fans to whom he finally helped bring another title. And it is not to celebrate the fact that the Padres got the raw end of that deal. It is to point out that, in the Hosmer decision, the Royals did the right thing. By letting Hosmer go, the Royals did not let sentiment or nostalgia drive their decision-making. We need to keep that in mind when making decisions now.

When we want to bring back Alex Gordon for one more year. Or have Salvador Perez move to first base. Or believing our young pitchers will all develop and be ready to contribute next season. We need to ask ourselves the tough questions. Can Alex still hit well enough play left fielder every day?

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What to do with Austin Allen? The hot-hitting San Diego Padres catching prospect out of Florida Tech is coming off back-to-back big seasons at the plate, a successful Arizona Fall League campaign, and is the 25th-ranked prospect in what many consider to be the top farm system in baseball. Oh yeah, he isn’t even the top-ranked catching prospect in the Padres sytem.

With the Arizona Fall League completed, MLB Pipeline has released a few different pieces looking at some of the top performances and most interesting numbers from the 2018 season, culminating in their All-AFL Team. Receiving the nod at catcher is San Diego’s own, Austin Allen.

Allen and the Peoria Javelinas captured the AFL title a few days ago (with the help from fellow Padres prospects Miguel Diaz, Buddy Reed, and Hudson Potts), with Allen finishing the season with a .263 average, two home runs, and two doubles in 15 games. His biggest contribution at the plate came in the form of his ability to get on base, ending the season with a .358 on-base percentage.

The catching prospect was also included in Mike Rosenbaum’s piece looking at some of the top Statcast data from the AFL (with the caveat that only one of the six AFL fields is equipped with Statcast). Still, Allen recorded the ninth-hardest exit-velocity on a 112.5 mph lineout. Daniel Johnson of the Nationals and Peter Alonso of the Mets topped this list with 116.4 and 116.3 mph exit-velocities, respectively.
What’s next for San Diego Padres catching prospect Austin Allen?

Allen is coming off a 2018 regular season in which he tied his career-high for home runs (22) and doubles (31), recording those numbers in back-to-back seasons with the Lake Elsinore Storm and San Antonio Missions.

In 12 fewer at-bats in Double-A, Allen stuck out 12 fewer times and recorded the same number of hits as he did the previous season in High-A, 131. He upped his batting average to .290 (up seven points) and his OPS to .857 (up eight points).

As expected, the Padres made room to protect Allen and place him on the 40-man roster, ahead of next month’s Rule-5 draft. Now the question becomes, what does Allen’s future hold as a member of the Padres?

As of right now, the organization appears to be content in going into 2019 with Austin Hedges and Francisco Mejia behind the plate, leaving no playing time for Allen there. He did play some first base last season in Double-A, but that position is blocked for the foreseeable future, thanks to Eric Hosmer. But Allen doesn’t want to move from behind the plate and he may not have to.
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There isn’t a question as to whether or not Allen can hit a baseball. He can and he does it very well and very hard. The questions have surrounded his defensive abilities. As San Diego Union-Tribune Padres beat writer Kevin Acee pointed out last month in his feature on Allen, the catching prospect has continued to make positive strides in his defensive development and the organization is bullish on his ability to play the position at the major league level.

How many teams can say they have three catchers of the quality the Padres currently possess? As Acee discusses in his latest, AJ Preller doesn’t have much desire to trade away minor league talent that could potentially develop into major league production. In other words, Hedges gets one more chance to show he can hit the ball consistently, Mejia gets a full season to develop in the bigs, and Austin Allen mashes baseballs in El Paso until August/September. Based on current trade discussions and rumors swirling around Padres’ camp, I don’t see Allen going anywhere. However, a big season in AAA could lead to a much different story as the 2019 trade deadline approaches.

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Now, it’s Trey Wingenter.

The right-handed reliever has been placed on the 10-day injured list with a shoulder strain, the latest blow to a bullpen short on arms and long on innings.

“A little tightness in the shoulder, nothing too serious, probably something that needed a few days,” Wingenter said. “Don’t always have a few days to give. So take 10 days, make the most of the rest and be ready to come back strong.”

The 25-year-old said the tightness he has felt for a while peaked in Friday’s appearance, when he allowed a home run to the first batter he faced in the seventh inning of a tie game.

Wingenter has thrown the third-most innings (15 1/3) out of the bullpen behind Craig Stammen (18 1/3) and Kirby Yates (18).

His importance was growing, as his standard appearance was most often a late-and-close situation.

He is next in a line of pieces to go missing, further taxing a bullpen that has thrown 124 innings, 10th most in the majors.

Robert Stock was a hard-throwing, multi-inning bridge with a 2.45 ERA the second half of last season. He’s currently in Triple-A trying to prove he can throw strikes consistently.

Jose Castillo’s 97 mph fastball and wickedly breaking slider were increasingly put into high-leverage situations in 2018. These days, the left-hander spends part of every few afternoons playing catch from about 60 feet, trying to work back from what is being termed a flexor strain without surgery.

Aaron Loup, a left-handed specialist acquired in February, was giving the Padres quality outings (0.00 ERA, five strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings) before he went down early last month with an elbow strain.

Until they get back — along with Miguel Diaz, whose surgically repaired meniscus has progressed to the point he is starting his rehab assignment in Double-A on Sunday — the Padres bullpen is going to have to find a way to patch together effective games in the same way they did most of last season and virtually all of April.

“Everybody is talented,” closer Kirby Yates said Saturday night. “And everyone accepts the workload and knows our job, knows what we have to do on a daily basis.”

Yates has taken the loss the past two games against the Dodgers after entering a tied game in the ninth inning and allowing a run. This his come on the heels of his allowing one run in his first 16 innings of the season, which included his converting all 14 of his save opportunities.

The Padres recalled Phil Maton from Triple-A for the second time in six days. Maton began the season with the Padres, was optioned on April 3, recalled April 14, optioned April 21 and recalled Tuesday before being optioned Wednesday.

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Back in September, I wrote about Padres left-handed reliever Matt Strahm and how his intriguing repertoire out of the bullpen was generating mostly unnoticed performance. I noted his respectable 2.12 ERA and 3.45 FIP in 51 innings, while also pointing out that his numbers were trending upward. In the final month of the season, after that article was posted, Strahm continued to impress, posting a 1.74 ERA and 2.87 over a stretch of 10 1⁄3 innings, striking out 14 and walking four.

Strahm is no stranger to success. In his debut season with the Royals in 2016, transitioning from a starting role in the minors to a setup role in the majors, he put up a 1.23 ERA, 3.06 FIP, and 0.9 fWAR in only 21 innings. After a hiccup with inconsistent performance, a season-ending knee injury, and a subsequent trade, he returned to flash dominance in a versatile role out of the bullpen for the Padres.

With the Royals, Strahm relied strongly upon his fastball (he threw it nearly 80 percent of the time), which was good-not-great velocity-wise, sitting around 93-94 MPH, touching upper-90s. He’d occasionally mix in a curveball, slider, and changeup, results varying. His curveball without a doubt was his best secondary pitch as a starter. His only other significant offering, his changeup, was considered mediocre.

Strahm’s fastball was touching 97 in relief this year. It sits in the low 90s during extended outings but has exceptional, bat-missing life in the zone and is a plus offering. His curveball is already plus, flashes better than that, and Strahm’s ability to locate it in several effective locales allows the pitch to miss bats against both left- and right-handed hitters. Strahm will break off curveball featuring spin rates in excess of 3,000 RPMs. His changeup is fringey right now and only projects to average, but Strahm is able to maintain his fastball’s arm speed during release, which allows the pitch to induce sub-optimal contact.

Because of Strahm’s ability to locate his curveball effectively, I don’t think significant changeup progression is a necessary component for Strahm to attain a mid-rotation ceiling. If he can refine his fastball command, I think he can get by using the fastball/breaking ball against hitters from both sides while using the changeup as a tertiary change of pace.

His second year in the majors saw him struggle with locating his fastball. None of the secondaries took a step forward, giving his potentially impactful arm little to work with. The Royals did try him out briefly as a starter that season, as he went on to post a 7.11 ERA and 4.27 FIP in 11 2⁄3 innings. Losing a tick of velocity, he relied on his fastball less, turning to his slider and changeup as his main secondary offerings. None of those looked encouraging in a small sample size.

Fast forward to 2018, as Strahm had been traded to the Padres. Back in the big leagues quickly, he worked with four primary offerings out of the bullpen. Not your typical reliever. The biggest difference though this time was that his secondaries were generating good results.

Strahm has relied on four pitches (fastball, curveball, slider, changeup, all of them generating fair results. Using prorated pitch values from FanGraphs and eliminating decimals to create a wider range, we see that 27 pitchers out of 291 with 50 innings have posted values at or greater than zero. Strahm is one of them, with the majority of the rest looking like great company.

The changeup has turned into my main focus there. With the Royals as a starting pitcher prospect and a big league reliever, his changeup was considered fringe and there wasn’t much reliance or focus on it. It also seem to correlate pretty well with his uptick in strikeouts.

Strahm developed more confidence in the pitch as the season went on. And the results progressively got better and better.

May: 22 results, .156 wOBA, .451 xwOBA, 0.0% K%, 0.0% BB%
June: 24 results, .196 wOBA, .273 xwOBA, 12.5% BB%, 0.0% K%
July: 53 results, .264 wOBA, .286 xwOBA, 5.9% BB%, 29.4% K%
August: 22 results, .126 wOBA, .184 xwOBA, 0.0% BB%, 28.6% K%
September: 22 results, .126 wOBA, .171 xwOBA, 0.0% BB%, 33.3% K%

Now it looks like Strahm will get to test that new toy in the Padres rotation. He’s pitched a starter’s workload this spring, netting fantastic results. But it all doesn’t fall on the changeup, as he’s also working with a new slider. An adjustment to the mentality in which he throws the pitch with and work with his new pitching coach led to massive improvements.

“I started to develop it a little bit in Kansas City, but my knee injury in 2017 kind of put an end to that. Getting traded over here was a little blessing in disguise, to get with Balls [pitching coach Darren Balsley]. He kind of sharpened it up. He made it a legit swing-and-miss pitch for me.

“Something that helped it click was A.J. Ellis explaining to me — this was last year — the term ‘kill slider.’ That really stuck with me. It helped me throw my slider as a swing-and-miss pitch, versus trying to place it somewhere. A.J. said to just throw the hell out of it, and I was like, ‘All right.’ I did, and ever since I’ve kind of had that feeling for it. I basically take my four-seam and rotate the baseball — maybe 25 degrees? — and let it rip.

It’s only Spring Training, but there has been nothing but positive signs from his few outings.

2/27: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO
3/4: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO
3/9: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 SO

Now fully healthy and pitching with a complete four-pitch arsenal, Matt Strahm looks like an enticing breakout candidate for 2019.