For the second straight season, Carlos Villanueva pitched exclusively out of the bullpen, but his results in 51 appearances with San Diego (5.96 ERA) were a far cry from the success he experienced just one year earlier in St. Louis (2.95 ERA). The biggest difference in his peripherals was a massive spike in his home run rate, as Villanueva's mark jumped from 0.9 HR/9 in his only season with the Cards to 2.1 HR/9 in 2016. Opposing hitters started to crush his slider last season, slugging .491 against the offering after slugging just .282 against that pitch in 2015. Now 33, Villanueva may be at the point in his career where he'll have to settle for a non-guaranteed contract during the offseason before competing for a roster spot in spring training. Regardless of where that opportunity might come, Villanueva is unlikely to be tasked with more than a low-leverage role.
Villanueva has signed a one-year, $1. 5 million contract for 2017 to play in South Korea with the Hanwha Eagles, the Yonhap News Agency reports. He struggled with a 5.96 ERA last season with San Diego. At age 33, Villanueva's days in MLB may be over.
Villanueva has allowed 21 runs over his last 13.1 innings, giving up five home runs, but striking out 11. The 32-year-old has allowed at least one run in nine of his last 10 appearances, including a seven-run outing against Baltimore on June 28. Before that day, Villanueva had a 3.20 ERA, but it has since jumped to 5.71.
Villanueva fanned three over three scoreless innings of relief Sunday in the Padres' 17-inning win over the Dodgers. Eventually, Luis Perdomo gobbled up five innings and recorded the win despite walking six and allowing four runs on eight hits over five innings. Nevertheless, the Padres continue to use Villanueva as a multi-inning reliever despite having a few opportunities thus far to utilize him as a starter. For the season, he's posted a 4.55 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 18 appearances with San Diego.
Villanueva has given up one earned run over his last four innings and now holds a 3.00 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. While Villanueva is commonly used as a sixth or seventh inning guy, he also has two holds for the Padres in their first 14 games. The 32-year-old has experience as both a starter and reliever in the big leagues and will likely maintain a flexible-relief role for the Padres in 2016.
Villanueva is likely to be used in a jack-of-all-trades role in the bullpen, the San Deigo Union-Tribune reports. Villanueva has given up six runs in 4.2 innings this spring, which would appear to put him out of any consideration for a spot in the rotation. However, he could get some spot starts in a swingman role.