RIGHT HANDED PITCHER Born: August 17, 1978
Drafted: 2nd round, 67th overall, 2000 (Astros)
How Acquired: Trade from Yankees (for Casey McGehee)
College: University of Nevada-Reno
Agent: Matt Sosnick WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES Qualls was a solid-to-good reliever for the Astros and Diamondbacks for a four-year period from 2005-08. He threw, and still throws, a fastball that sits at 92-93 and tops out a little over 95. His second pitch is a slider. Possibly as a result of appearing in approximately 80 games for four straight years, his stuff suddenly became less effective starting in 2009 and hasn’t recovered. He’s always been a strong groundball pitcher, but in 2008 his line drive rate suddenly increased and it hasn’t gone back down. Unlike many fastball/slider pitchers, Qualls has not had a significant platoon split over the course of his career. The Pirates acquired Qualls from the Yankees for Casey McGehee. The move appears to have been intended primarily to move McGehee, as it came just after the Pirates acquired Gaby Sanchez.
A: 15-6-0, 3.72 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 162.0 IP, 1.7 BB/9, 6.9 K/9
The Astros sent Qualls to low A for his first year and he pitched well, starting 26 games, not walking many and allowing only eight HRs.
AA: 6-13-0, 4.36 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 163.0 IP, 3.7 BB/9, 7.8 K/9
Houston moved Qualls up to AA–the Astros didn’t have a high A affiliate at the time–and he didn’t pitch as well, allowing a lot more baserunners. He did at least improve his K rate. He continued to pitch strictly as a starter.
AA: 8-11-0, 3.85 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 175.1 IP, 3.1 BB/9, 6.8 K/9
Back in AA and still a starter, Qualls pitched better, although his K rate dropped.
AAA: 3-6-1, 5.57 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 106.2 IP, 2.5 BB/9, 6.1 K/9
MLB: 4-0-1, 3.55 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 33.0 IP, 2.2 BB/9, 6.5 K/9
Qualls got hit much harder in AAA and Houston moved him to the bullpen. He got called up for one game in July, then came up to stay in August. He saw a lot of action the rest of the season and pitched well.
MLB: 6-4-0, 3.28 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 79.2 IP, 2.6 BB/9, 6.8 K/9
The Astros used Qualls heavily–he pitched in 77 games–and he did well, largely in middle relief. He still didn’t have a good K rate.
MLB: 7-3-0, 3.76 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 88.2 IP, 2.8 BB/9, 5.7 K/9
Appearing in a career-high 81 games, Qualls continued to be a solid reliever with a low K rate, over a strikeout per nine innings lower than the previous year.
MLB: 6-5-5, 3.03 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 82.2 IP, 2.7 BB/9, 8.5 K/9
Appearing in 79 games, Qualls had a sharp increase in his K rate, although he also allowed more baserunners. In the off-season, the Astros traded him to Arizona.
MLB: 4-8-9, 2.81 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 73.2 IP, 2.2 BB/9, 8.7 K/9
Qualls appeared in 77 games for the D’backs and had his best season, with a career-best WHIP and K rate. He was used occasionally as a closer.
MLB: 2-2-24, 3.63 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 52.0 IP, 1.2 BB/9, 7.8 K/9
Qualls served as the Arizona closer, but wasn’t as effective as in previous years, allowing more than a hit per inning and seeing his K rate drop. He compensated partially by walking almost nobody. He got hit in the knee by a line drive in late August and missed all of the last month.
MLB (Ari): 1-4-12, 8.29 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, 38.0 IP, 3.2 BB/9, 8.1 K/9
MLB (TB): 2-0-0, 5.57 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 21.0 IP, 2.6 BB/9, 6.4 K/9
Qualls opened the season as the Arizona closer, but struggled badly. Eventually, he lost the job and the D’backs essentially gave him to the Rays. He pitched a little better with Tampa Bay, but still didn’t pitch well. Qualls signed with the Padres as a free agent after the season.
MLB: 6-8-0, 3.51 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 74.1 IP, 2.4 BB/9, 5.2 K/9
Qualls bounced back partially with San Diego, but the bottom fell out of his K rate. He was helped immensely by Petco Park; opponents had an OPS of .553 against him at home, .817 on the road. After the season, the Padres declined his 2012 option and he signed with the Phillies.
MLB (Phi): 1-1-0, 4.60 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 31.1 IP, 2.6 BB/9, 5.5 K/9
MLB (NYY): 1-0-0, 6.14 ERA, 1.77 WHIP, 7.1 IP, 3.7 BB/9, 2.5 K/9
Qualls didn’t pitch well for the Phillies, with the low K rate continuing. Philadelphia designated him for assignment in late June and sent him to the Yankees essentially for nothing. He struggled in eight outings in the Bronx and the Yankees were ready to remove him from their roster when the Pirates acquired him.
It’s difficult to envision Qualls helping the Pirates. Considering that his fastball velocity hasn’t dropped, they may think they can get him straightened out, but his track record over the last several years doesn’t bode well. It’s quite likely that taking on Qualls was the condition for sending McGehee to New York. Unless he shows signs of turning things around, the Pirates may release Qualls at some convenient point, such as when Juan Cruz comes off the disabled list.STATS Baseball Reference–Majors
MiLB.com CONTRACT INFORMATION 2005: $316,000
2012: $1,150,000 PLAYER INFORMATION Signing Bonus: N/A
MiLB Debut: 2001
MLB Debut: 7/22/2004
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2012
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 11/19/03
Options Remaining: 0
MLB Service Time: 7.058 TRANSACTIONS June 3, 1997: Drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 52nd round, 1444th overall pick.
June 5, 2000: Drafted by the Houston Astros in the 2nd round, 67th overall pick; signed on August 16.
November 19, 2003: Contract purchased by the Houston Astros.
December 14, 2007: Traded by the Houston Astros with Chris Burke and Juan Gutierrez to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Jose Valverde.
July 31, 2010: Traded by the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Tampa Bay Rays for Matt Gorgen.
November 1, 2010: Became a free agent.
January 19, 2011: Signed as a free agent with the San Diego Padres.
October 31, 2011: Became a free agent.
January 31, 2012: Signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Phillies.
June 28, 2012: Designated for assignment by the Philadelphia Phillies.
July 1, 2012: Traded by the Philadelphia Phillies to the New York Yankees for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
July 30, 2012: Traded by the New York Yankees to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Casey McGehee.
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