With Huston Street gone and helping one of the best teams in baseball, the Padres still need someone to close their games with a shot at the playoffs now just a hope for next season.
However, he certainly does have experience, as he closed 24 games last year in Detroit and helped solidify a bullpen that had struggled to find a consistent solution.
Of course, there is still over a week until this years trade deadline, with many reports that Benoit will be headed back to Detroit with the bullpen struggling again this year, even with veteran Joe Nathan in the closer’s role.
The other piece of the puzzle is who will take Benoit’s vacated 8th inning role? Dale Thayer and Kevin Quackenbush seem to be the best two options for the Padres. Thayer closed 7 back in 2012 when Street was hurt and is posting a 2.09 ERA with 37 strikeouts in just under 39 innings.
On the other hand, Kevin Quackenbush has 68 saves in 4 minor league seasons and has pitched well for the Padres this year despite lots of shuttling back and forth between San Diego and Triple-A El Paso.
Nick Vincent is also back from the disabled list. Black lists him as an option, but this seems unlikely as he has struggled more lately and is just getting back from the injury.
As their bullpen continues to be a bright spot along with the starting rotation,It is a good problem to have for the Padres. If they could hit for the team that would be the real bonus.
Yes that is a slight nod towards bringing back Jason Lane to the big club. Earlier this season he only allowed 1 hit in 4 innings of work. He could pinch hit and pitch for the team, right? By the way, in 47 plate appearances in El Paso, Lane is hitting .359 with 2 home runs. Carlos Quentin has 125 at-bats and 22 hits compared to Lane’s 14.
The closer role is known to be a different mental beast than regular bullpen work or set-up work. I believe they should use Quackenbush in the 8th inning role for the time being until Benoit is trade and use the rest of this season to get Quackenbush experience in the role at the major league role.
He should be the closer in 2015 and beyond, but the biggest question would be his bullpen music. One suggestion below.