Quantrill stellar in bullpen debut

With several off-days in late June, rookie isn't needed in rotation

June 24th, 2019

PITTSBURGH -- had been a starter for the entirety of his professional career, spanning 75 starts, before he trotted out of the bullpen gate at PNC Park during Sunday's 11-10, 11-inning loss to the Pirates.

The eighth overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft was moved to the bullpen for the short term, manager Andy Green said on Saturday, and the righty had tossed around in the bullpen as recently as the Brewers series that ended Wednesday. With a lot of tight games of late, Green hadn’t gone with Quantrill yet.

But Green decided it was time Sunday. Quantrill entered in the sixth inning with a 5-4 lead, and he fared well. He struck out three and worked around a first-and-third jam in the seventh to complete two scoreless innings.

Though Quantrill’s starting history shows a capability to be a long reliever if needed, Green said that’s “not necessarily” the role he’s looking to plug his rookie into, at least not early on.

With three off-days in the last 11 days of June, the Padres’ “seven-man rotation” plan a few weeks ago would produce rest times longer than what Green would like, he said. So Quantrill has become the odd man out, though not necessarily because of any lack in results.

“He could continue to go down to Triple-A and start every five or six days, or he could be here and be ready to help when the opportunity presents itself, and we’ll see how he responds to that,” Green said. “I think mentally, he’s the kind of guy who can handle it.”

Quantrill’s most recent relief appearance before Sunday came in 2014, when he was a freshman ace for the Stanford Cardinal. So it’s not uncharted territory for the Canadian product, but it’s certainly a different feel. To combat that, he’s translating some of a starter’s mentality into a next-man-up mindset.

“Just because this is a slightly different routine doesn’t mean that things are going to be so terribly different,” Quantrill said. “I still do as much as I can similar to what a starter would do before the game. Then the only difference is just a little less time to warm up, which honestly, a lot of guys think is a good thing -- less time to mess stuff up or over-warm up or waste pitches. Just get to the point, do what you need to do, so that the manager can call down as soon as he can.”

Green said Quantrill’s role in the bullpen will be defined by “how he responds to [his first inning], how that inning goes and then where we go from there.” But none of this is necessarily building to a long-term change.

“I think we definitely see him as a starter long run, but we see him as a versatile guy,” Green said. “I think [if] you look across the league, the teams that are able to add good arms to their bullpens tend to be better teams. Sometimes that’s starters going to the ‘pen, sometimes that’s guys getting called up and going straight to the ‘pen. For us right now, in this short-term period, we’ve told him we’re going to take him back to a starting role at some point in time, but right now, this makes some sense for us.”

“Long term, I still view myself as a starter,” Quantrill said, “but right now, it seems like the best way I can help the team is out of the ‘pen, and that’s what I’ll do.”

The Padres have seen solid pitching from their starters over the past six games, a span in which they’ve produced a 2.75 ERA (11 earned runs over 36 innings). So for the time being, Quantrill said he’s just happy to see his teammates perform like this to give San Diego a chance to win each day.

“I think ideally, most guys in this room want to pitch all the time,” Quantrill said. “The way I look at it is the reason I’m not pitching is because our team is playing well, and our starters are doing their jobs. It’s kind of a give and a take.

“As long as they’re doing their jobs, you’re not going to hear me complain.”