By Juan Paez
Mark Melancon was a brilliant closer for the San Diego Padres in the most recent major league season. The experienced right-hander led the National League in saves (39) and, in 64.2 innings pitched, he posted a 2.23 ERA. But the bad news for the California team is that Melancon became a free agent and signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks before Major League Baseball’s lockout.
The reality is that San Diego needs a closer for this coming season and for years to come. The Cuban guy Adrian Morejonoriginally a starter, could be the perfect candidate to start a journey as a firefighter in the Big Top, change his role permanently and follow in the footsteps of Aroldis Chapman.
Morejón is currently recovering from a tommy john surgery, which he underwent at the end of April 2021. If all goes well, he would return to action after the All-Star break in July to face the second part of the campaign. Although San Diego has treated the West Indian left-hander primarily as a starter until now, current circumstances suggest the possibility that he could be tested as the ninth-inning man.
Looking at the rotation of the religious, the staff is full. The starting staff has Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Mike Clevinger and Nick Martinez, as well as formidable options like Dinelson Lamet, Chris Paddack and young Ryan Weathers. To top it off, hot prospect MacKenzie Gore is apparently on the verge of the big leagues.
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Bottom line, Morejon won’t find many opportunities to sneak into manager Bob Melvin’s starters.
After looking at the Padres’ options to start games, let’s go to the bullpen. Of course, San Diego could acquire a closer via trade or free agency. At the end of the day, you have the material to propose an exchange for a star fire extinguisher or the monetary disposition to bid for one of the options available on the market. Figures like Kenley Jansen, Trevor Rosenthal and Brad Hand are unemployed.
But if the Padres decide to start the season with an internal solution to secure their victories, Morejon could get chances to prove himself when he’s ready to hit the mound. The sinister islander, who turns 23 on Feb. 27, has a steamy fast pitching that consistently clocks in at 96 mph, has a wide five-pitch repertoire, is controlled and forces opponents to swing with some ease.
Another important point is the requirement of the roles. Morejon has been the victim of some major injuries in his short stint in Major League and Minor League baseball, so moving him to a less physically demanding role could, in the long run, be a success for him and his team. As a closer, he would pitch fewer innings, pitch fewer pitches and have less of a load on his left arm.
If the Padres need a closer, the top option could be closer than many think. He wears the number 50 on his back and is Cuban.
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YOU HAVE WHAT: A Cuban could be the CLOSER of the future in San Diego