Last month in a win over Reno, Tucson Padres manager Terry Kennedy got four scoreless innings from relievers Brad Boxberger, Miles Mikolas and Cory Burns. Ω
After the game, Reno manager Brett Butler told Kennedy each guy kept throwing harder and harder, and that Kennedy had a very impressive bullpen.
In Triple-A baseball talk, that's code for "you won't have them for much longer."
Butler was right.
All three relievers - Boxberger, Mikolas and Burns - are currently in the big leagues, accounting for almost half of San Diego's bullpen. In fact, of the seven arms currently in San Diego's bullpen, six of them pitched for Tucson at one point this season.
What that's meant for Kennedy is a whole lot of mixing and matching. The manager has used 39 different pitchers this season, compared to just 30 position players.
"We've had that shuttle going all year," said Kennedy, whose Padres fell to Iowa 8-1 on Friday night at Kino Stadiium.
With all the movement, several pitchers within the Padres organization have been given a chance to impress at the Triple-A level.
"They're all doing well in the situation they're in," Kennedy said. "The problem is everyone is just so dang tired."
Here's a look at three arms who have benefited from all the movement and what's working for them.
The Triple-A stats: 1-2, 3.49 ERA, 38 2/3 IP, 38 Ks
Where he started 2012: Ray began the year with Double-A San Antonio and pitched in nine games before being called up to Triple-A.
His roles in Tucson: Ray was brought up in April to be an extra arm in a talented bullpen. His role has gotten more important as the season has gone on and Ray now finds himself as Kennedy's main eighth-inning arm when protecting leads.
What he's done recently: Ray's ERA over his past 10 outings is 0.79. The last time he gave up an earned run was July 23 at Sacramento.
Quotable: "He has thrown the heck out of the ball recently. You've seen his confidence skyrocket and he's been a real asset for us out of the bullpen. He's pounding the strike zone, keeping the ball down." - Kennedy
The Triple-A stats: 1-1, 5.82 ERA, 21 2/3 IP, 19 Ks
Where he started 2012: Like Ray, Vincent started in San Antonio. He excelled at that level, posting a 1.86 ERA in nine games.
His roles in Tucson: Vincent has been in and out of the Tucson clubhouse, spending time in San Antonio and even pitching in seven games for San Diego. However, recently with so many quality arms up in the big leagues, Vincent has taken over the closer's role.
What he's done recently: Vincent is improving. Over his last 9 1/3 innings, he has a 2.89 ERA. Vincent had an ERA of 12.15 in May, 9.00 in June, 1.42 in July and 2.70 in August.
Quotable: "I like what Vinnie is doing. He's throwing the ball well and is a good option to have there in the ninth." - Kennedy
The Triple-A stats: 9-10 5.26 ERA, 143 2/3 IP, 93 Ks
Where he started 2012: Reyes has been with Tucson all season.
His roles in Tucson: He started the year in the starting rotation, but was moved to the bullpen to limit his innings pitched. It's only been a week, but the move has already paid off. Reyes can throw a little harder and hold back less when he's pitching in relief rather than starting.
What he's done recently: Reyes has had two bullpen appearances so far and has posted four scoreless innings.
Quotable: "Now that he doesn't have to throw 100 pitches a night, he can really let loose and go all out." - Kennedy
• Starting pitchers Andrew Cashner and Anthony Bass will join Tucson on a pair of rehab assignments. Cashner is expected to start Tuesday in Fresno, and Bass will start Wednesday's home game against Colorado Springs.
• What: Tucson Padres at Fresno
• When: 7:05 p.m.
• Radio: 1600-AM