During spring training the following year, manager Jim Frey suggested that Quisenberry learn the submarine style delivery from Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Kent Tekulve to confuse hitters, because he could not overpower them with a fastball. From 1980 to 1985, Quisenberry was the American League's dominant closer leading the American League in saves all six season (with the exception of the strike-shortened1981 season). During that same span, he posted an ERA of 2.45 and won the Rolaids Relief Man Award each season. He also finished in the top five in voting for the Cy Young Award during this span.
Quisenberry was hardly the prototypical closing pitcher. Unlike many of his peers, he didn't possess a hard fastball, and thus had to rely on pinpoint control, guile, and deception, which was augmented by the submarine delivery he first used in 1980. His primary pitch was a sinking fastball, which causes hitters to hit the ball on the ground rather than in the air. He also possessed a curveball in his repertoire, as well as a changeup he developed in 1984  and an occasional knuckleball. Although Quisenberry was not a strikeout pitcher, he offset this deficiency by seldom walking batters or throwing wild pitches. His 45 saves in 1983 was briefly a single season record (tied in 1984 by Bruce Sutter and broken in 1986 by Dave Righetti). Quisenberry was the first pitcher in major league history to save more than 40 games in a season twice in his career. He won a World Series with the Royals in 1985 and was the winning pitcher of Game 6, notorious for Don Denkinger'sblown call at first base.
In 1983, the Royals signed Quisenberry to a lifetime contract, similar to the contract of his teammate, George Brett. However, a rocky start in 1988 led to Quisenberry's relegation to middle relief and mop-up duty. Shortly before the 1988 All-Star break, Quisenberry was released by the Royals. Ten days later the St. Louis Cardinals, managed by ex-Royals manager Whitey Herzog, signed Quisenberry as a free agent. After pitching for a year and a half in St. Louis, Quisenberry signed to play the 1990 season with the San Francisco Giants. Quisenberry tore his rotator cuff just five appearances into the 1990 season, and was faced with serious injury for the first time in his career. At the age of 37, after 12 seasons in the majors, Quisenberry retired.
After his baseball career ended, Quisenberry embarked on a second career as a poet, publishing three poems in 1995 and a book of poetry titled On Days Like This in 1998. He also emerged as one of baseball's most quotable characters, with bon mots like "I found a delivery in my flaw" and "I've seen the future and it's much like the present, only longer."