With today's announcements that Jabari Blash, Travis Jankowski, Christian Bethancourt, and Luis Perdomo will be on the Padres' Opening Day roster, only three of 25 spots remain. There is still a slot in the rotation, an opening in the bullpen, and a backup infielder role yet to be filled, with numerous worthy candidates vying for each.
Colin Rea and Robbie Erlin have been battling for the final spot in the rotation, behind Tyson Ross, James Shields, Andrew Cashner, and Drew Pomeranz. Erlin is looking for a fresh start after three injury-abbreviated seasons with an ERA north of four, and has the spring numbers to make his case. He has a 2.25 ERA in 12 innings over four starts, and has allowed seven hits - two of which left the park - and three walks for a scant 0.83 WHIP. The rookie Rea, who spent time in the majors last season, has pitched 22 innings in six starts, putting together a 5.73 ERA and a WHIP over twice that of Erlin's on 25 hits - just one homer - and 13 free passes. Both are eligible to be optioned this year, so the potential of losing one on waivers will not play a part.
With Perdomo, Fernando Rodney, Kevin Quackenbush, Carlos Villanueva, Matt Thornton, and Brandon Maurer already assured jobs, and Buddy Baumann, Brandon Morrow, and Jon Edwards beginning the season on the disabled list, the remaining spot in the bullpen comes down to Ryan Buchter and Rule 5 pick Josh Martin. Buchter has been outstanding, striking out 12 batters in eight innings, while allowing seven hits, three walks, and three earned runs. Martin, on the other hand, has been torched for a 10.63 ERA in 11 innings over 12 appearances, also striking out a dozen, but allowing 16 hits and seven walks. As a Rule 5 pick, if he doesn't make the team he will have to be placed on waivers and any team that claims him will be required to carry him on their 25-man roster, but more than likely he will be passed over and returned to the Cleveland organization.
The competition for the infield bench role is a bit more crowded, but the victor also seems apparent. Jemile Weeks has had a phenomenal spring, surpassing all expectations offensively and defensively. Fellow minor league signing Adam Rosales has also performed ably, but not nearly as well, and is a right-handed hitter while Weeks is a switch-hitter. Additionally, his ability to play first base will not be a point in his favor, as the Padres have Brett Wallace to fill in for Wil Myers, and although it has been made clear that catcher Derek Norris will not be used at first base as he was last year, he can play there in an absolute emergency. Along with Weeks and Rosales, former Yankees farmhand Jose Pirela and fifth-year Friar Alexi Amarista are also in the running for the opportunity to fill in for Cory Spangenberg, Alexei Ramirez, and Yangervis Solarte. Both have an option year remaining, but only Pirela has hit well. While his offense has been impressive, it pales in comparison to Weeks's performance, and his ability to fill in at the outfield corners won't be needed.
Out of all the candidates for each of the three jobs, Erlin, Buchter, and Weeks seem like the most likely to stick with the big club, but cases can be made for others as well. The official announcements will be made tomorrow, the last day before the season opener.
Apparently Rea made the rotation.