Baumann, Dominguez cementing future roles

Padres still considering using a six-man rotation

Baumann, Dominguez cementing future roles

PITTSBURGH -- Buddy Baumann and Jose Dominguez have been pitching professionally for the better part of the past decade. But until a month ago, neither had been given a consistent opportunity at the Major League level.

Thus far, the rookie relievers have made the most of the chance they've been given. And in doing so, they could be cementing themselves a spot in the Padres' 2017 bullpen.

"They've put themselves in the mix to be a part of this thing for a long time," said Padres manager Andy Green. "They're young, they're controllable, they have every opportunity to be a part of our bullpen moving forward. There's still two months left to really get a feel of who they are."

Baumann entered Spring Training with a chance to crack the big league club, but was sidelined for much of the first half with a lower back injury. He proved his worth with a gaudy 1.33 ERA for Triple-A El Paso -- which plays in a notoriously hitter-friendly park.

The 28-year-old southpaw hasn't seen much of a drop-off in his first big league stint. He's allowed a run on three hits over 5 1/3 innings, while striking out seven.

"I lose myself in the competition," Baumann said. "After the first couple outings, I realized that my stuff plays the same here. That gives me a little more confidence, because you build up to the big leagues your whole life."

Unlike Baumann, this isn't Dominguez's first crack at the bigs. He had a pair of very brief and sporadic stints with the Dodgers in 2013-14 -- and an even shorter tenure with the Rays in '15.

This year, he's thrown a career-high 15 2/3 frames and has received the most consistent playing time of his young career, pitching in 11 of the club's last 18 games. Since being roughed up on July 18 in St. Louis, he's lowered his ERA from 8.31 to 2.87.

"Dominguez, the main thing for him has always been to be in the strike zone," said Green. "Since he's been here, he's been in the strike zone. It's a relatively low walk rate for a guy that that's always been his bugaboo."

In Green's eyes, the pair is "earning more positive situations."

But while Baumann would obviously love to cement himself a role with the Padres for the future, he's doing his best to maintain focus on the present.

"It's hard to block out entirely, because you know you're sort of always playing for next year," Baumann said. "But for me, it's always been Minor Leagues the next year. I never did get the opportunity to be in the big leagues. So in the past I've had to just be OK with working hard for today and not to worry too much tomorrow."

Padres still mulling six-man rotation

With 16 games in 16 days beginning on Tuesday, Green said he was mulling a brief stint with a six-man rotation. On Tuesday, he indicated that decision will largely depend on the circumstances of the next two days.

If that were the case, it's likely that Clayton Richard -- who was released by the Cubs on Aug. 3 -- would make Sunday's start against the Mets.

"We're going to watch how these next days unfold," said Green. "That's still a possibility -- the last day in New York, having him start. I don't think we're there to guarantee it at this point in time. We're going to see how much use we need out of him in the next couple days, see the state of our 'pen."

In 25 relief appearances this season, Richard owns a 6.43 ERA. He hasn't thrown more than 22 pitches in a big league outing this year. But he did get over four innings and 60 pitches in two Minor League starts in July.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.