The San Diego Padres are one of Major League Baseball’s worst teams this season, but even awful teams can provide their fair share of entertainment.

In the midst of being blown out by the Seattle Mariners Tuesday afternoon, the Padres waved the white flag and sent out two different position players to pitch the bottom half of the eighth inning.

Down 16-4 at the time, San Diego was clearly on its way to their 33rd loss of the season. With nothing left to lose, manager Andy Green decided to give his bullpen some rest and bring in catcher Christian Bethancourt, as well as shortstop Alexi Amarista to close the game out.

It’s always fun when position players take the mound, but it’s an even bigger treat when they actually succeed like Bethancourt and Amarista did on Tuesday.

Bethancourt opened the inning, and as it turns out, he is quite the flamethrower. The 24-year-old hit 96 mph on the radar gun, and was consistently in the mid-90s on his fastball.

However, the real fun began when Mariners outfielder Seth Smith stepped up to the plate. That is when Bethancourt showed of his secondary stuff — a 54 mph knuckleball/eephus pitch, which turned out to be pretty good.

Bethancourt rewarded the dedication of those still watching by providing a demonstration of both extremes of pitching spectrum. There was a 42 mph difference in his fastest and slowest pitches of the inning. Bethancourt’s day was also notable beyond his pitching performance. He played four different positions in the game, making baseball history in the process.

In 2/3 innings of work Bethancourt did not allow a hit and walked two. Amarista, who was subbed in for normal starting shortstop Alexei Ramirez, came on to record the final out of the inning. He did not reach the same peaks and valleys, but was much more efficient in recording his lone out.

Based on today’s results, the Padres might want to consider turning to their position players more often.

Much of those ugly pitching numbers above can be attributed to starter James Shield’s implosion. The supposed ace of the staff gave up 10 runs in just 2.2 innings of work. Shields has recently been tied to trade rumors, but this outing did him and San Diego no favors.

In fact, it highlights a startling trend for the former All Star. For a pitcher with such a good a track record, Shields has really gone downhill since he arrived in San Diego last season.

In his three seasons prior to coming to the Padres, Shields average fastball velocity was 92.2-92.4 mph. Last season it dipped all the way to 91.4, and this year the trend has continued. Coming into today’s game, that figure was down to just 90.0 in 2016. This could help explain how a pitcher who only allowed 25 home runs in three seasons before San Diego has allowed 33 in 2015 despite playing home games in a notorious pitcher’s park.

Shields is still a big name, but it doesn’t appear he’s still the terrific pitcher people think when they hear the name “James Shields”. A desperate team like the White Sox might roll the dice on him, but it is unclear if he would be of much help.

About Ben Sieck

Ben is a recent graduate of Butler University where he served as Managing Editor and Co-Editor-in-Chief for the Butler Collegian. He currently resides in Indianapolis.