September 1 marks the final full month of the regular season but it also marks another important thing: roster expansion. Years ago, teams were allowed to bring their full 40-man rosters into their clubhouses for the month of September. I’m sure clubhouse managers loved that (not).
That can’t happen any longer. Currently, teams can expand their rosters starting Wednesday by two additional players, from 26 to 28. This gives some teams such as the Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles the chance to bring up some of their prospects in order to give them a taste of the big leagues. For the rest of the teams battling for a playoff spot like the Padres, the roster expansion allows them to use these roster spots to give some rest to any pitchers who are fatigued.
Padres manager Jayce Tingler hinted that he was going to use the two spots on pitching in his pregame press conference on Tuesday.
“We could go a couple different options but if we do bring [up] an arm or two, I think just being able to give the bullpen—whether it’s a little bit of extra rest or just a little bit of being able to use some other guys we think we can win with and being able to give guys breaks,” Tingler said, per 97.3 The Fan. “So I think at the end of the day we’re going to be down to our last month. We’re playing meaningful baseball.
“I think guys see the light at the end of the tunnel and then also playing meaningful baseball brings a little extra adrenaline. So spot wise, arm wise, I feel good but it never hurts to be able to add an arm or two who can help you throw meaningful innings and help play winning baseball.”
In the aftermath of Tingler’s comments, here are four arms who could help give the bullpen some extra rest down the stretch. Before we get into it, I’m not including Dinelson Lamet or Jake Arrieta because they would be on the roster regardless of if the roster was expanded or not (if they were healthy).
Any hard core Padres fans out there reading this are familiar with Shaun Anderson. The 26-year-old came over from the Orioles earlier this season and has appeared in three games for San Diego in 2021. Anderson has pitched a combined 21.2 innings this season, allowing 29 runs with San Diego, Baltimore, and Minnesota. Anderson, like the rest of these pitchers could provide value to the bullpen by eating some innings in uncompetitive games (hopefully in the Padres favor) in September.
Camarena is a fan favorite because of the grand slam he hit off of Max Scherzer earlier this season. It was that improbable moment which helped San Diego complete an eight run comeback over the Washington Nationals.
Camarena shouldn’t be grabbing a bat again the rest of the year though. After all, he isn’t a hitter. On the mound, the Cathedral Catholic graduate has a 9.00 ERA this season, which is a little misleading because he’s only pitched in five games. He also had to eat innings for the Padres at the end of their 16-inning loss to the Dodgers last week where he allowed four runs.
Miguel Diaz, 26, has been the ultimate team player (along with Nabil Crismatt) this season. Just in 2021, Diaz has been called up five different times and hasn’t really pitched terribly at all. Before giving up a combined six runs in his two most recent major league appearances, Diaz went seven straight appearances (9.2 innings) without giving up a single earned run. Of these four pitchers, Diaz is likely Tingler’s number one option if he had to choose one of them to pitch in a big game.
Knehr made his big league debut this season in a spot start in place of Chris Paddack, who had been put on the Injured List earlier in the year. Knehr surrendered two earned runs to the Colorado Rockies in his debut and has put together similar outings throughout his rookie season. While some appearances have been out of the bullpen, Knehr still has yet to allow more than two runs in a game. However, he’s also yet to go more than 3.2 innings so if he does get the call, he’ll likely be coming out of the bullpen again.