Padres designate struggling righty Volquez
Brach recalled from Triple-A Tucson to take right-hander's place
SAN DIEGO -- Edinson Volquez's downward spiral with the Padres came to an end Saturday, as the club designated the right-hander for assignment and recalled reliever Brad Brach from Triple-A Tucson.
Volquez, whom the Padres received in a trade with Cincinnati in December 2011, transformed from the club's Opening Day starter into one of the rotation's most inconsistent, frustrating pieces this year.
In 27 starts, Volquez posted a 6.01 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP, and his 95 earned runs allowed were the most in the National League. On Friday night, Volquez gave up six runs before he recorded an out in a start against the Cubs -- the proverbial last straw.
The Padres stuck with an inconsistent Volquez for much of the season, mainly because of his stuff, which can be elite. The problem, however, was that Volquez's stuff was not "on" very often this year.
"At times we thought we had him on a roll," Padres manager Bud Black said. "There were times when we thought we had him where we needed him to be, but just the uneven-ness of his performance -- because the talent is there -- is frustrating."
Black cited the organization's desire to get a look at some of its young pitchers as the primary reason for the timing of the move. The Padres have discussed who will start Wednesday in Arizona in Volquez's place but likely will not announce it until early next week.
"Into September, I think that some of the pitchers that we have evaluated this year need some more evaluation and need more Major League experience," Black said. "So I thought this was a time for us to part ways with Eddie, and Eddie understood, and we thanked him for his everyday effort."
Because the Padres called up Brach -- a reliever -- it is possible that right-hander Tim Stauffer, who came on in relief of Volquez on Friday and threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings, could pitch Wednesday's game. Then, when rosters expand Sept. 1, the Padres could go with one of the younger arms to whom Black was referring.
But as of pregame Saturday, Stauffer remained unaware if the club had plans to use him Wednesday. More than half of Stauffer's career appearances have been starts, but all 32 of his outings this year have come out of the 'pen.
"I haven't heard anything," Stauffer said. "I'm just here getting my work done and preparing for today."
Left-hander Robbie Erlin, 22, and right-hander Burch Smith, 23, have each made starts for the Padres this year and could factor into the rotation in the future. Along with Stauffer, they are options for Wednesday.
As for Volquez, it is possible he may wind up on a contender willing to take a chance on the 30-year-old right-hander.
"It's really too early to tell what's going to happen," Black said. "But it wouldn't surprise me at all if he was on another team within the next few days. He's got a good arm. His stuff is still good."
One issue Black addressed during his pregame media session Saturday was whether Volquez was negatively affected by pitching for his native Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.
"I don't think so," Black said. "I think now the communication between the WBC teams and their clubs is often and very good."