The back end

One of the major differences between the 2011 and 2012 Padres will be the way the back-end of the bullpen lines up. This year’s squad welcomes new closer Huston Street along with the likes of flame-throwing Andrew Cashner.

Street comes to the Padres from Colorado, where he served as closer for the last three seasons, finishing third on the Rockies all-time list with 84 saves. Prior to the Rockies, Street pitched in relief for the A’s, who drafted him with the 40th overall pick in the 2004 Draft. He flew through the minors, making his Big League debut in 2005 and winning AL Rookie of the Year honors.

Huston Street tosses live batting practice with pitching Coach Darren Balsley looking on.

Since making his Big League debut in 2005, Street ranks among the top ML relievers in saves (10th), strikeouts (T-14th) and wins (T-7th). He has made at least 60 appearances in five of his seven Major League seasons, reaching 70.0 innings pitched on three occasions.

With 97 of his 417 career appearances coming at Coors Field, there is a feeling that his numbers (strong as they are) may even be inflated due to his home pitching environment. Over his seven-year career, Street has posted a 2.83 ERA (107 ER/340.0 IP) away from Denver, compared to a 4.11 mark (44 ER/96.1 IP) at Coors Field that has nudged his lifetime ERA to 3.11 (151 ER/436.1 IP).

Cashner, 25, was acquired by the the Padres from the Cubs in exchange for Anthony Rizzo. Projected to fill a bullpen void in the eighth inning this season, many think it won’t be long before he is slotted into the starting rotation. The right-hander features a fastball that has been known to touch triple-digits, giving him a high ceiling and providing plenty of excitement for Padres fans.

Andrew Cashner unleashing one of his blistering fastballs in live batting practice this morning.

He made his Big League debut for the Cubs in 2010, pitching exclusively out of the bullpen. Cashner made 53 relief appearances that year, posting a 4.80 ERA (29 ER/54.1 IP) that was largely affected by back-to-back outings in which he surrendered six runs. Without those appearances, his ERA on the season would have been 2.89 (17 ER/53.0 IP).

Cashner was placed into the starting rotation for the Cubs in 2011, making one appearance before going down with a right rotator cuff strain. He returned on 9/5 and worked in six relief outings, tossing scoreless ball in five of those appearances.

For more on Cashner and the Padres expectations, check out this story by MLB.com’s Corey Brock.

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