The Unthinkable Rise of Robert Suarez, from Security Guard to Top Padres RP

By now, most Padres fans must know about Robert Suarez, a pitcher who made his Major League Debut in 2022 at the late age of 31 years old. What they may not know is that in his early twenties, Robert Suarez was working tirelessly as a security guard at a local supermarket, just trying to get by. Knowing his love and passion for baseball, he joined a handful of unknown leagues starting in Mexico, then making his way into Venezuela. His talent was not recognized in either area, so he moved into a Nippon Japanese league playing for the Softbank Hawks and Hanshin Tigers.

From there, Padres General Manager AJ Preller took a risk and signed him, giving Suarez a one year prove-it deal with an opt-out for a chance to be on the squad for opening day in 2022. In game one of the Padres season, he was given the opportunity to close out the win, and had a very disappointing major league debut. After suddenly walking the bases loaded and showing no command of the strike zone, the Padres would go on to give up a walk off home run that very same inning. So... not quite the picture perfect first major league inning he had dreamed of. However, Suarez had worked too hard up to that point to just let go and call it quits.

Completely lost and doubted by most fans, Suarez made adjustments and stepped up for his team after that day, ending up turning in one of the best campaigns for a relief pitcher in all of baseball. He was a hero for the Padres in the postseason, in particular by helping his team get past the LA Dodgers. Nonetheless, in 2022, Robert Suarez was an extremely impactful player for the Padres, helping them win big time games during the season and willing them into the playoffs. But what exactly made him so dominant?

Robert Suarez has electric stuff coming out of the bullpen. A nasty changeup with gritting movement, and an occasional 100 MPH fastball that blows right by hitters. Suarez finished off his first major league season with a 2.27 ERA, a minuscule 4 home runs allowed, just a 1.05 whip, 11 strikeouts per nine innings, and major league hitters were hitting just .176 off the Venezuelan right-hander. Because of his sensational 2022 campaign leading up to free agency, Robert Suarez earned a 5 year/46 million dollar contract extension at the start of the off-season. Now, what exactly does it mean for the future of the Padres and himself?

With San Diego locking up Suarez for multiple seasons starting in 2023, it gives them a formidable combo at the back end of the pen with him and star southpaw closer Josh Hader. In other words, the contract gives the Padres major flexibility. If Hader leaves in free agency after the 2023 season and earns a big time deal with another team (or the Padres do not feel it is important to further invest at that position), then the franchise already has itself an elite closer in Suarez.

The contract of Robert Suarez will sure up the back end of the pen with a proven weapon, and that is not to mention the deep rotation that the Padres boast, led by Joe Musgrove. This combination of star pitching potential throughout gives a recipe for postseason success in 2023. The steal of a contract with the Venezuelan right-hander will pay dividends.

The story of Robert Suarez has certainly been a whirlwind, and this is just the beginning of his career. Not only does this prove that he has the tools to be an effective relief pitcher well into the future, but his recently signed contract is yet another example of the San Diego Padres franchise investing and being committed to winning with talent across the roster.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Gaslamp Ball community and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gaslamp Ball staff or SB Nation.