Balsley, Bochtler earn kudos as pitching gurus

Take a look at Hand, Yates, etc. before they were Padres

Balsley, Bochtler earn kudos as pitching gurus

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley has long had the reputation of being a pitcher whisperer when it comes to rebuilding careers.

It's happened time and time again since Balsley became the Padres pitching coach during the 2003 season.

The list of pitchers who rebuilt their careers - or developed -- while working with Balsley is long and includes Randy Wolf, Kevin Correia, Aaron Harang, David Wells, Ian Kennedy, Heath Bell, Luke Gregerson, Mat Latos, Scott Linebrink, Clayton Richard, Eric Stults, Joe Thatcher, Rod Beck, Brett Tomko, Woody Williams and Chris Young.     

Even Hall of Famer Greg Maddux praised Balsley during his two seasons with the Padres.

Well, it's happening again.

Look at the before and after careers of some notable Padres relievers who have worked with Balsley and now Doug Bochtler.

We'll start with Brad Hand, who Wednesday was named the National League Reliever of the Month for July.

Before he came to the Padres at the start of the 2016 season as a waiver claim, Hand had appeared in 90 Major League games with the Marlins with 43 starts. He had a 9-25 record with a 4.71 earned run average with 190 strikeouts against 120 walks in 288 2/3 innings. His WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) was 1.424.

In just over 1 ½ seasons with the Padres, Hand has a 2.56 ERA and a 1.046 WHIP in 132 relief appearances. He has 183 strikeouts with 50 walks in 144 1/3 innings. That is an astounding change of direction. And he gets better and better.

Hand recorded his seventh save of the season Tuesday night - and his fifth in as many attempts since taking over as the Padres' closer on July 22. Hand has not allowed a run over 20 1/3 innings in 20 appearances since June 14. He has allowed 13 hits with two walks and 26 strikeouts during the run (with at least one strikeout in each of his last 12 outings). The streak of 20 1/3 straight scoreless innings - during which Hand has lowered his ERA from 3.12 to 1.96 - is the longest by a Padres reliever since Fernando Rodney worked 22 straight scoreless innings last season.

Which brings us to right-hander Kirby Yates. Before coming to the Padres earlier this season, the right-hander was 3-3 with a 5.38 ERA in 99 career games in the American League. He had allowed 99 hits in 98 2/3 innings with 41 walks and 114 strikeouts. He had also given up 21 homers - an average of 1.9 per nine innings - and had a 1.419 WHIP.

In 39 games with the Padres, Yates has a 1.73 ERA. He has allowed 25 hits in 36 1/3 innings with nine walks and 55 strikeouts. He has allowed four homers - or just under one per nine innings - with a 0.936 WHIP.

Sorry. But these things just don't happen.

A lot of it has to do with the pitcher making adjustments and developing confidence.

And who does much of that start with?

Balsley and Bochtler!

NOTE WORTHY:

• This is no longer a slump for Wil Myers. It is a drought. Nineteen games into the season, Myers was hitting .360. He was still hitting .301 on May 12. But he has lost 59 points from his batting average in the 72 games since. Three days rest at the end of last week hasn't seemed to help. He is 0-for-10 since. He has had only nine multi-hit games since May 12 and one since the All-Star break. Since that date, he has had eight multi-strikeout games while going 11-for-63 (.175) in 18 games with two doubles, four homers, nine walks, seven RBIs and 10 runs scored.

• INF Yangervis Solarte is 0-for-10 with a walk and a strikeout in three games since returning from the disabled list.

• RHP Phil Maton has allowed one unearned run on two hits with seven strikeouts over eight innings in his last six appearances. His earned run average has dropped from 4.40 to 2.82 during the run.

• RHP Craig Stammen has allowed six hits and five walks with five strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings in his last seven games. His ERA dropped from 4.50 to 3.83 during the run.