Black confirms Benoit's new role as closer

Black confirms Benoit's new role as closer

SAN DIEGO -- With Huston Street, the Padres' closer for the past two and a half years, headed to Orange County to pitch for the Angels, San Diego fans will have to get used to seeing Joaquin Benoit jog out of the bullpen for save opportunities.

As expected, manager Bud Black confirmed on Saturday that Benoit will slide into Street's vacated role.

"Trying to fill his shoes is really going to be hard for me," said Benoit on Friday night after giving up the game-winning run in the ninth inning of the Padres' 5-4 loss to the Mets. "Hopefully, I can do what he was doing."

The real intrigue lies in who will take over the setup role now that Benoit has been promoted. Black indicated that he'll decide who pitches the eighth inning based on each reliever's recent usage and performance, though Kevin Quackenbush and Dale Thayer seem to have the upper hand for now.

"I think you guys have noticed that Quack's innings have become a little bit more high-leverage for us. He's pitching in more high-leverage games and he's performing," Black said. "You look at Dale, Dale's been a good performer for us, too. He had a couple of hiccups, but overall, his body of work has been pretty solid for us."

Quackenbush pitched the eighth inning on Friday night with the score tied and recently solidified his spot in the 'pen after being frequently shuttled to Triple-A during the first couple of months of the season when a roster move was necessary. He has 28 strikeouts and eight walks in 27 1/3 innings with a 0.88 WHIP.

"Quack was a guy who early on was identified by our Minor League managers and staffers that you could trust to pitch late in the game," Black said. "He now seems to be settling in and doing nice work."

Thayer saved five consecutive games back in 2012 when Street was injured, and this season has a career-best 2.09 ERA with 37 strikeouts in 38 2/3 innings.

Another name to look out for is Nick Vincent, who was activated from the disabled list (shoulder soreness) on Saturday to take Street's spot on the 25-man roster. Vincent's ERA has climbed with each month this season. He posted a 1.46 ERA in March/April and a 4.50 ERA in May before being hit hard in four June appearances, a span in which his season ERA ballooned from 2.96 to 5.67, where it currently stands.

"Nick had a very nice run -- he had a few bad games that elevated his ERA, but we still think a lot of Nick," Black said. "The next week to 10 days, we'll get him back into the swing of things."

Black also said that righty Blaine Boyer and lefty Alex Torres, who have been most effective when facing same-handed batters, could get time late in games during matchup-based situations.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. Will Laws is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.