|Padres' Erlin hopes to impress vs. Angels|
SAN DIEGO -- Left-hander Robbie Erlin views himself as a starting pitcher.
The question is, do the San Diego Padres?
Clearly, the Padres are holding pitching auditions these days, and Erlin is one of the five starters in the rotation. But will he remain there when Eric Lauer comes off the disabled list and Bryan Mitchell returns from an assignment that is as much about rebuilding as rehabbing?
And the Padres could also look at a couple other younger prospects over the final 40 games of the season.
As for Erlin, the Padres like the 27-year-old who returned this season after having Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery in 2016. Thus far, however, they like him more as a reliever, where he has a 2.05 ERA in 27 appearances out of the Padres bullpen -- often as the long man.
Wednesday night, he will be making his fifth start of the season as the host Padres attempt to avoid being swept by the Los Angeles Angels.
After struggling in his first two starts -- 12 runs (11 earned) allowed on 14 hits in a total of seven innings -- Erlin has pitched very well in his last two starts. He has allowed five runs (three earned) on nine hits and two walks with seven strikeouts over 10 innings on the road against the Cubs and the Brewers.
But Erlin wasn't exactly invited to make those starts. They came by way of injuries to Lauer and Luis Perdomo.
However, opportunity is knocking. If Erlin can keep pitching better than the younger arms the Padres are auditioning -- Walker Lockett was returned to Triple-A El Paso after three ineffective starts and Tuesday's starter Brett Kennedy is 0-2 with an 11.00 ERA after his second major league outing Tuesday -- he could force the Padres to alter their thinking.
Erlin will take a four-pitch mix -- sinker, four-seam fastball, changeup and slider -- into his first career outing against the Angels and 30th career start.
The Angels will counter with right-hander Felix Pena on Wednesday. The 28-year-old Pena has faced the Padres once before, as a member of the Chicago Cubs in 2016 at Petco Park. He allowed three runs on two hits and a walk in one-third of an inning.
Overall, Erlin is 2-3 with a 3.36 ERA in 69 2/3 innings this season. He has allowed 30 runs (26 earned) on 61 hits and eight walks with 57 strikeouts. He has a 0.990felix pena
WHIP and a .241 opponents' batting average.
Pena is 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA in 11 games (nine starts). He has worked 43 2/3 innings, allowing 24 runs on 44 hits and 17 walks for a 1.397 WHIP and a .256 opponents' batting average. Pena is 1-1 with a 1.84 ERA in three road starts this season compared with a 0-2 record and a 6.52 ERA in eight games (six starts) at Angels Stadium this season.
He didn't figure in the decision in his last start against Oakland on Friday in Anaheim, when he gave up three runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings.