The San Diego Padres bullpen has been consistent and dependable year after year. A key member of the staff in which you never hear anything about is Dale Thayer. He is unheralded and quiet in his approach and is very popular with his team mates. He also has a bit of a cult following with Padres fans.
In Thayer’s four seasons with the Padres he owns a career 2.94 ERA in 217 games and 202.1 innings. That goes with 179 strike outs and 54 walks resulting in a 1.147 WHIP. He has also earned eight saves for the team, including seven in 2012 when he spent a few weeks as the closer. Huston Street was injured and Thayer was recalled from Tucson and immediately paid dividends. He finished the season with a 3.43 ERA and a 2-2 record.
The most interesting man in the world is how Padres pitcher Andrew Cashner described Thayer in an early season interview on MLB network. Justin Upton also indicated in an interview with the network that Thayer was the person on the team that he was most interested in meeting. He indicated to host Chris Rose and Kevin Millar that Thayer was a good guy and was nothing like he thought he was. Thayers image of a scruffy beard and long hair probably intimidates most hitters before they even get into the box.
Thayer at the age of 34, hasn’t had the most traditional road to the major leagues. He was drafted by the Padres as an amateur free agent in 2002. He spent the first four seasons in the Padres minor league system before being dealt to the Tampa Bay Rays in September of 2006 to complete an earlier deal between the two teams. The trade was Russell Branyan to the Padres for Evan Meek and a player to be named later, that player turned out to be Dale Thayer. Branyan spent two seasons with the Padres swatting 13 home runs in 194 at bats, while striking out 75 times. That was Branyan’s trademark, all or nothing.
Thayer made his major league debut for the Rays in 2008 and pitched in 11 games for them to the tune of a 4.61 ERA. He spent the majority of the next season in AAA for the Rays and was released in November of 2010. Thayer signed with the New York Mets and got into 11 games for the team in 2011. He was 0-3 with a 3.48 ERA. Even after a decent year the Mets granted Thayer his free agency. He was signed by the Padres on December 6, 2011.
Dale Thayer has truly blossomed under the tutelage of Daren Balsley. He has refined his delivery and is more consistent to the plate. His numbers show that. He has quietly become a vital part of the Padres pitching staff. This season he has been very solid and probably the Padres most consistent relief pitcher. Thayer has a 1.88 ERA in 14 games and 14 and a third innings pitched. Just the usual numbers from this dependable right-handed pitcher from Fountain Valley California. Thayer has mostly been used in 7th and 8th inning situations this season, but could close if needed. With Kimbrel and Benoit ahead of him in pecking order, that is not likely.
Thayer is scheduled to make $1.38 million this season, and is not due for free agency until after the 2017 season. He is a solid fixture in the bullpen and his presence makes Joaquin Benoit, Craig Kimbrel and Brandon Maurer better. In fact his ability to perform might eventually lead to a deal for the Padres. The team is already said to be shopping their excess of bullpen arms. Joaquin Benoit, Shawn Kelley and Odrisamer Despaigne are the likely players to be traded. The type of workman like effort Thayer puts forth each start, is refreshing to see as a fan of the game. We at East Village Times wish him the best of luck in the future. He is a personal favorite of mine and hope he gets some recognition for the pitcher that he is.