Despite a significant increase in his ERA (4.52), Brandon Maurer maintained many of his peripherals while pushing his strikeout rate to a career-best 9.3 K/9 (24.0 strikeout rate). Once Fernando Rodney was traded to Miami, the Padres had a vacancy in the ninth inning, and Maurer stepped in to take over as the team's closer during the second half. From July 1 on, Maurer went 13-for-15 in save chances, while posting a 3.09 ERA and 25:5 K:BB in 32 innings and holding opposing hitters to a .232/.260/.312 line. Throughout his career, Maurer has carried a low LOB% (65.8 percent), and his 2016 rate was right in line with that norm (66.1). Ultimately, he will need to become more effective in those situations in order to become a steady mid-tier closer, but he will likely begin 2017 handling the ninth inning in San Diego if Carter Capps has any setbacks in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
Maurer recorded his fourth save of the season in Wednesday's 8-5 win over the Diamondbacks, pitching a clean ninth inning and recording two strikeouts. Maurer disposed of Jake Lamb, Yasmany Tomas and Daniel Descalso on just 10 pitches, retiring both Lamb and Descalso on swinging strikes after Ryan Schimpf and Yangervis Solarte had given the Padres the lead in the visitors' half of the frame. The 26-year-old closer has had a couple of stumbles this season but has notched four saves in as many opportunities and recorded multiple strikeouts in three of his last four trips to the mound.
Maurer collected his third save Thursday against the Diamondbacks by fanning two in a perfect ninth inning. The right-hander did make things interesting by throwing just 11 of his 19 pitches for strikes, but he ultimately proved to be effectively wild as he shut the door on Arizona. Maurer has successfully converted all three of his save opportunities this season, although Carter Capps (elbow) appears to be nearing a return to the big-league bullpen, after which the latter could push for the closer's job in San Diego.
Maurer picked up his second save of the season Wednesday against the Diamondbacks, allowing a hit and fanning two in a scoreless ninth. The right-hander's outing started off on a bad note with a leadoff single by A.J. Pollock, but Maurer managed to right the ship and finish the game unscathed. His ERA is still sitting at a rough 4.76, and with Carter Capps' (elbow) return from the DL looming, Maurer's days as the Padres' closer may be numbered.
Maurer allowed two runs on two hits (one home run) while striking out two in an inning of work in a non-save situation during Monday's 5-3 win against Colorado. Maurer gave up a meaningless two-run homer to Mark Reynolds in the ninth inning with the Padres up by four at the time. It was his third outing of the year and first time allowing runs, but this is a reminder that Maurer -- although currently the ninth-inning man for San Diego -- can be vulnerable at times. Fortunately for him, the Friars don't have many other options breathing down his neck, at least until Carter Capps returns.
Maurer pitched a perfect ninth inning with a pair of strikeouts to earn his first save of the season in Friday's win over the Giants. Maurer was called upon to protect a one-run lead, and had little trouble dispatching the Giants. Although he converted just 13 of 19 save opportunities last year, he's currently entrenched as the Padres closer, and as long as he remains effective he should be able to hold off Carter Capps (elbow) for the job once he returns from the disabled list.