The Dodgers have signed reliever Kevin Quackenbush to a minor league contract, adding a potentially useful bullpen arm for next season if he can bounce back successfully after a dreadful last couple seasons in the majors.
Quackenbush is a righty who broke into the bigs back in 2014 for the San Diego Padres and posted an impressive rookie season.
It was actually the best year of his career thus far. He appeared in 56 games and threw 54.1 innings while posting a 2.48 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP, and 56 strikeouts.
He increased his games and innings each of his next two seasons with the Padres, but his statistics weren’t as strong as his rookie performance.
His WHIP improved each year in 2015 and 2016, and his strikeouts per nine innings also fell in each of those successive seasons.
The Tampa native had a 4.01 ERA in 2015 and a 3.92 ERA in 2016 and was still serving as a somewhat reliable option out of the Padres bullpen.
2017 was when things got really rough for him, though. He was designated for assignment by the Padres in September of that year and was sent to the minors after clearing waivers.
Quackenbush had a 7.86 ERA and 1.82 WHIP in 26.1 innings in 2017. He became a free agent after that season and signed a minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds that offseason.
He wasn’t able to get his once-promising career back on track with the Reds, though. He appeared in just 10 games for Cincinnati before being designated for assignment in late April 2018.
Those 10 games were truly atrocious. He had an 11.00 ERA and 2.111 WHIP but rebounded to post some solid numbers in AAA for the Reds organization.
He elected free agency this past October, and the Dodgers have decided to take a flier on him to see if he can regain his form from a few years ago.
He has a fastball that averages about 91 MPH, a 12-6 curveball that he throws with a knuckle-curve grip, and a slider that averages about 86 MPH.
Quackenbush is a few years removed from Big League success, but that previous performance certainly provides a flicker of hope that he can regain that ability to some extent.
Quackenbush has a career .235 BAA against righties and a .261 BAA against lefties. Despite that fairly large gap, his slugging percentage totals are surprisingly similar. Righties slug .394 against him, while lefties slug .398 against him.
He also has pretty stark differences in his career stats at home versus on the road. He pitched at an extremely pitcher-friendly park in San Diego, so that makes sense.
He has a career 3.36 ERA while pitching at home, and a 5.59 ERA while pitching on the road. Batters hit just .228 against him at home, but .267 against him on the road.
There are also some numbers that indicate Quackenbush can be deployed in dicey situations. He has faced 125 batters in his career with two outs and runners in scoring position and has allowed just a .215 batting average against in those situations.
Given that he spent the majority of his career with the Padres, the Dodgers were the team that he has made the third most appearances against.
He has great career numbers against Los Angeles, too. In 89 plate appearances against Quackenbush, the Dodgers have hit just .211 with a .303 OBP and just three extra-base hits, all of which are doubles.
In 22 games against the Dodgers, Quackenbush has pitched 20.2 innings, posted a 1.74 ERA, a 1.26 WHIP, and 23 strikeouts.
His stats specifically at Dodger Stadium are somewhat mixed. His 2.89 ERA is really solid, but his 1.61 WHIP and his .297 batting average against are high.
It’s certainly a low-risk, high reward signing by the Dodgers. Quackenbush can be a valued member of the bullpen at some point if he can regain his previous form. If he can’t, it’s not like the team invested very much to give him a shot.