Padres News: Dale Thayer in Padres Future?


The 2015 Padres bullpen was expected to be a strength for the team and ended up being one it’s biggest liabilities. A crew that had been held together in previous seasons saw new faces all around, starting with new closer Craig Kimbrel, Yankees import Shawn Kelley and Brandon Maurer from the Mariners. One man that had been in the bullpen since 2011 but now saw himself demoted to AAA was the mustachioed Dale Thayer.

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Dale Thayer began his professional baseball career in 2003 with Fort Wayne after being signed by the Padres. He had a terrific season and even made the Atlantic League All Star Game. He had 25 saves in 45 games. In 2006 he was traded to Tampa Bay as part of the Russell Branyan deal. He made his major league debut with the Rays in 2009 and in 11 games picked up one save but also allowed 7 runs and 3 home runs.

After a quick stint with the Mets in 2011 he came to San Diego as a minor league free agent prior to the 2012 season. He settled in and pitched in 64 games, picked up 7 saves subbing for Huston Street. He pitched in another 69 games in 2013, then 70 in 2014 when he also pitched to a 2.34 ERA in a career high 65 1/3 innings pitched.

Thayer was relied on heavily by the Padres early in the season, as Kelley struggled, Nick Vincent struggled, and the Padres saw themselves entering games losing already and unable to come back from them. Thayer only ended up making 38 appearances for the Padres before being optioned to AAA El Paso and even made an appearance in AA. He pitched well in AAA with just one run allowed in his nearly 10 innings pitched. At the major league level he did have a higher ERA than in previous years, but it was a bit of a mystery why he suddenly lost favor.

He had allowed 6 runs over two straight appearances in July but had not allowed a run in 5 appearances in August before being optioned for assignment. Why the sudden change?

For one, Shawn Kelley really stepped things up the second half of the season and the Padres started bringing up some of their other younger prospects like Jon Edwards. Thayer is 34 years old but only made $1.4M and is arbitration eligible this off-season. It appears that Preller simply might want to go younger with the bullpen corps and give some younger bodies a chance. Personally, I think you can never have too many dependable arms in the bullpen and think that as good as Maurer and Kelley were when they were healthy, I do hope that Thayer can stick around and find ways to help this team. It would be a shame to say goodbye to another veteran bullpen man pushed out the door.

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