Is Dale Thayer the San Diego Padres solution at closer?

Dale Thayer's pitching could change the minds of Padres ownership for the future. (Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

The San Diego Padres have had few bright spots so far this year, plagued by injures throughout the organization, with many on the active 25-man roster. Without going down the laundry list of players, I’ll focus on one potential future piece who is rather intriguing. With so many injuries, you often find players who would not usually be in the roles they’re in now. That brings me to Dale Thayer.

The Padres signed the grisly right-handed pitcher in December to a minor-league deal, with a major-league invite. His showing in spring training was very impressive, and management took note. If not for other pitchers higher on the depth chart, he may have broke camp with the team. Thayer, 30, a former Padres farm hand who spent 2003-2006 in the Padres organization, has filled in very handsomely while Huston Street recovers from a right lat strain. Thayer has always had respectable numbers but has never had a chance on a regular basis. With Street on the shelf, he was thrown into the fire, due to a plethora of injuries, as the Padres closer.

Because the Padres are grooming Andrew Cashner as the set-up man and potential future closer, there were few options. In 11 games last year with the New York Mets, Thayer went 0-3 while posing a 3.48 ERA in 10.1 innings pitched. He also had a brief stint in 2009-2010 with Tampa Bay. His career minor league resume is impressive. Before the start of the 2012 campaign, Thayer (over nine seasons) had logged and impressive 2.49 ERA in 568.1 innings pitched, along with a very noticeable career strikeout (8.8 SO/9) to walk ratio (2.8 BB/9) while having some closing experience.

Thayer has not disappointed this year. In fact, quite the contrary, he’s been lights out and could be a permanent fixture in the Padres bullpen. Before his promotion to the big-league club this year, Thayer was dominant with the Padres triple-A affiliate. He had not allowed a run in 8.1 innings pitched, and he notched five strikeouts, with opponents only hitting a meager .074 against (albeit a small sample size). This year, he has been perfect in save opportunities with five in 10 innings pitched, with 10 strikeout and no runs allowed. Suffice it to say, he has earned a spot in the Padres pen.

Street is currently throwing and continuing to rehab, so it begs the question: Where does Thayer fit when Street comes back? With the rash of injuries this year, not only to the Padres but all around baseball, the closer role is already in high demand, and the Padres could use Street as a chip for the right price come the trade deadline.

When Street comes back, Thayer will slide into a different role, presumably the sixth-inning guy, before Luke Gregerson, who has been locking down the seventh inning since 2009, and Cashner in the eighth. Well, at least until the July 31 trade deadline. It is very possible for the Padres, during a transition year, to ride Thayer out in hopes of bringing back another player of necessity for  Street. In that scenario, it is possible to see Thayer back in the closer role, and possibly even into the offseason, until the Padres further season their young relief core.


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  1.  That’s awesome. really pulling for him. Love the swagger. His stuff should translate well (overall). Tell him Mickey Koke is a big fan, and digs the Stache’ 🙂

  2. Ive been good friends with Dale since 8th grade and the guy is a born closer! He hates to lose at anything, and I mean anything! Its BS that its taken him this long to get a legit shot. His other stints in the majors were mop up duty in games that didnt matter, he thrives in the big moment.

  3. I agree that the acquisition of Street was (in part) to use him as a chip, but also to mentor pitchers such as Cashner, and you still need a closer, especially with low scoring games in Petco National Park. It was win win really. The Padres didn’t rule out bringing Street back either. Things may have been different if they started healthy, and winning baseball.

    Thayer has been very impressive. Slide down into the 6 inning role, then see what happens at the deadline. Who may, or may not step up. Thayer’s emergence (if you will) also allowed the Padres to acquire Donn Roach, (best GB/ration in the MiLB) and Alexi Amarista, who they needed desperately due to lack of middle infield depth.

  4. I think the answer to “what role will Thayer fill when Street comes back” is “temporarily put into a long reliever role until Street is traded”. Seems like a foregone conclusion. Hell, it seemed like a foregone conclusion (the Street half of the equation) one minute after they signed him.

  5. The Padres could use some legitimate middle-infield depth, possibly a corner outfielder, and starting pitching.  Especially with all the injuries. 

    As for Thayer; the guy looks like a closer. He has the bulldog mentality, and his velocity is up from the last time I saw him pitch. The Padres can use him until the Cashner solidifies himself, and other pitchers like Boxberger and Quackenbush (among others) make their way up. Chicks dig the long ball, but the dudes can always appreciate the sweet Stache’.

    Appreciate the feedback go Padres!

  6. i love it! i think you are absolutely right. thayer has been impressive over 9 minor league years. his first 4 years he was behind trevor hoffman (not taking his spot) then went to tampa behind percival. i am glad he has finally gotten his shot. looks like he is running with it. the mustache doesn’t hurt either 🙂

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