Kevin Quackenbush made a career-high 60 appearances for the Padres last season, working mostly as part of the bridge to the ninth inning and racking up nine holds and a pair of saves along the way. With the acquisition of Carter Capps and the emergence of Brandon Maurer as a shut-down reliever, it's now less likely than ever that Quackenbush will emerge as a closer in San Diego. For the second straight season, Quackenbush's fastball velocity dipped (90.5 mph), which helped push his home-run rate to a career-worst 1.2 HR/9 mark. Barring a return to strikeout-per-inning levels, Quackenbush is a risky option for owners seeking holds since his 2016 skills suggest that he is a middle reliever with a limited ceiling at this point. The Padres also may opt to limit his exposure to quality left-handed bats after he yielded a .292/.361/.466 line against them last season.
Quackenbush tossed a clean inning in Monday's spring training loss to the Angels. Quackenbush is a favorite to make the Padres bullpen despite pedestrian results in 2016 (3.92 ERA, 5.05 xFIP and 1.9 K/BB) due to a general lack of competition. There are four relievers ahead of him on the depth chart, so it would likely take an injury for him to see enough hold chances to become rosterable in holds leagues.
Quackenbush threw a scoreless ninth for his second save Tuesday against San Francisco. Quackenbush took two losses and allowed four runs on seven hits and four walks over just 4.1 innings between his two saves August 28 and Tuesday night. It's hard to believe he'll steal too many saves from Brandon Maurer down the stretch, considering he has hardly been reliable this year with a 3.74 ERA.
Quackenbush was recalled from Triple-A El Paso on Tuesday. Over 42 games with the Padres this season, Quackenbush has posted a 3.89 ERA and 1.27 WHIP over 41.2 innings. He's had some uncharacteristic struggles with the long ball, as his HR/9 has risen from 2015's mark of 0.93 to a lofty 1.30. The Padres optioned Leonel Campos to Triple-A El Paso in a corresponding move.
Quackenbush was optioned to Triple-A El Paso on Monday, the San Diego Union-Tribune's Dennis Lin reports. He has a 3.89 ERA on the season, but his declining strikeout totals and increased walk rate have eliminated him from consideration in high-leverage spots for the Padres, even after Fernando Rodney got traded. Keith Hessler was recalled to take Quackenbush's spot in the bullpen.
Quackenbush picked up the victory in each of his last two appearances out of the Padres' bullpen. Quackenbush was optioned to Triple-A El Paso in late May, but he rejoined the Padres in early June and has pitched well this month, giving up just two earned runs over nine innings while picking up three wins and posting a 6:2 K:BB ratio. He is working in middle relief and will likely continue to do so despite his June success.