All-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman was unceremoniously allowed to leave for Milwaukee via free agency last offseason. This move began the Heath Bell era in San Diego. Bell helped fans forget about Hoffman by leading the National League in saves with 42.
His fiery personality and bullish style on the mound help set the tone for a young bullpen.
Prior to closing games, Heath Bell was the setup man for Hoffman. With Hoffman gone and Bell promoted, the setup role was up for grabs. Several candidates got opportunities but nobody dominated hitters like Mike Adams.
Despite being plagued by injuries in 2009, Adams posted a 0.73 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 37 innings. If he can stay healthy in 2010 the Padres should be able to hold leads after the seventh inning.
Gregerson was the "player to be named later" the Padres received from St. Louis when they traded Khalil Greene. He proved to be much more than just a name for the Padres pitching 75 innings and finishing third in the national league with 27 holds.
A healthy Adams will get most of the hold chances in 2010 but Gregerson will bridge the gap between the starter and Adams by taking most of his reps in the seventh inning.
The Rest: Joe Thatcher, Edward Mujica, Luis Perdomo and Adam Russell will likely round out the rest of the bullpen. Thatcher's performance has been Jekyll and Hyde over the past several seasons but he's shown enough to warrant a spot on the roster.
Mujica showed versatility last season by providing the Padres with short, middle and long relief outings and even filled in as a spot starter. Perdomo ate up a lot of garbage innings for the Padres last year and is a good candidate to do the same in 2010.
Adam Russell was another big arm that came from the White Sox in the Peavy deal. The 6'8" right-hander struck out 14 batters in 12.1 innings last season and earned a chance to start with the big club this year.
Outlook: The bullpen proved to be a strength at the end of last season after injuries and inconsistency at the beginning. This unit should be pretty tough in 2010. Other bullpen candidates are Greg Burke, Sean Gallagher, Aaron Poreda and Ryan Webb.