A starter in the minors, the hard-throwing McCullers was the Padres’ Rookie of the Year in 1985 when, filling in for an ailing Goose Gossage, he recorded saves in his first three major-league appearances and compiled a 2.31 ERA in 23 games. Nicknamed “Baby Goose”, he was San Diego’s stopper (8-10, 3.72, 16 saves) in 1987 and led NL relievers in innings pitched (123.1).
McCullers drew interest from other teams in the offseason — the Padres refused a straight-up deal for the Dodgers’ Mike Marshall in December — but he faltered in 1988 and, with the emergence of Mark Davis, became expendable. McCullers went to the Yankees in a trade for Jack Clark after the season, but continued to struggle in pinstripes and was sent to Detroit for catcher Matt Nokes in June 1990.
McCullers sat out the 1991 season after surgery to remove a blood clot, and a five-game cameo with the Rangers in 1992 marked the end of his tenure in the majors.