Now that 2017 is here and the Mariners spring training is not far off I will start writing about the different positions and players.
The team has improved off of last season but by how much we will see. I don’t see the bullpen changing a whole lot since last season except that Edwin Diaz will start the season off as the closer. The hope is that he will continue to do what he did last year except in September where things went array probably because of the amount of innings he had pitched. I am sure that manager Scott Servais will watch the amount of inning that Diaz will pitch again especially early in the season.
The Mariners could use Dan Altavilla sometimes as a closer if he makes the club. He did a good job when he came up in August. He primarily will pitch in either the sixth or seventh inning. I would not pitch him in the eighth if Diaz is pitching the ninth because they are a lot alike. They both throw hard along with having a slider. Hopefully Diaz will improve on the slider against lefties or come up with another pitch. He is dominant with the slider against righties. The same maybe for Altavilla; I don’t remember him facing too many lefties.
I can see Steve Cishek as the primary guy coming out of the bullpen in the eighth inning though he may be asked to pitch the ninth inning once in a while. Depending on his usage he could go two innings. Cishek isn’t expected to start the season because of surgery so Tony Zych or Nick Vincent could be pitching the eighth inning. Zych would depend on his arm since he missed most of last season. When Cishek comes back Vincent likely is the main guy pitching the seventh inning.
Evan Scribner who had an outstanding September after being on the disabled list all season likely will pitch the sixth or seventh inning depending on how far the starter has gone. He did a great job getting hitters out with runners on base so that could be his job for the season.
Ariel Miranda or Nathan Karns could be the long reliever out of the bullpen depending on who may be the fifth starter. It would be nice if Miranda started because it would mean that the Mariners would have two lefties in the starting rotation unless the Mariners pick up another lefty to start. Karns who had a so so time in the bullpen before being injured could be effected in relief because last season he was only good for about two or three innings. This would depend to on how Dipoto and Servais are looking at Karns.
The Mariners signed a left handed specialist who primarily will pitch in the seventh or eighth innings. The guy is Marc Rzepczynski who is familiar with being a left handed specialist. He is best known for getting lefties out and has not had a lot of success against righties. Most of the Mariner right handed relievers are good at getting lefties out so he will come in to get one of the tough lefties out or two depending where they are in the batting order and how many outs there are.
I would not see any surprises for the bullpen right now unless they pick up someone in spring training like they did Nick Vincent last year. It looks like a solid group however we know that the bullpen can change a lot one year to the next. So spring training will be interesting on how it works out and we know that things could change before spring training with the history of Dipoto. He could trade someone in the bullpen part as a package to get someone somewhere else. Next time I will look at Manager Scott Servais.
Now that the year has turned over to 2017 means that spring training for the Seattle Mariners is about a month and half away.
General Manager Jerry Dipoto has been quite busy once again this off-season acquiring parts for the Mariners to make another run to the playoffs and we hope this year to the World Series. The biggest trade of the off-season was trading TaiJuan Walker to the Arizona Diamondbacks along with shortstop Marte and received shortstop Jean Segura and outfielder Mitch Haniger in return. This will make the Mariners a better team for 2017 and the long run. Segura is a superior offensive threat to Marte and at least as good in the field. Haniger is expected to be the key to the trade however he could be a year or longer to see if it is actually true. Depending how he does in spring training he could either start in triple A or be a right handed hitting player this coming season platooning in one of the corner positions. He can play center field as well so he could spell Leonys Martin when needed as well.
With the trade of TaiJuan Walker the starting rotation looks like Felix Hernandez, Iwakuma and James Paxton as the big three right now along with Ariel Miranda and Nathan Karns being the front runners for fourth and fifth pitchers in the rotation. Dipoto is looking to acquire another starting pitcher either in trade or free agency. Personally I would like someone that would be in the mix as one of the top starters like Felix, Iwakuma and Paxton however the Mariners may go for someone who is a third or fourth. I just hope that the three top starters can stay healthy for the year. Miranda or Kearns could end up in the bullpen if they are not one of the starters. Miranda could be the best choice being the second lefty primarily used in long relief as the first pitcher out of the bullpen.
Speaking of lefty specialist the Mariners signed free agent Marc Rzepczynski. The main thing with him is it will take us all spring training if not the whole year to pronounce his name correctly. I can’t tell you what it is right now and I won’t try. He likely will pitch in the seventh or eighth inning against a tough lefty handed hitter. He doesn’t have much good history against right handers so he will likely pitch against one hitter in the inning unless another left handed comes up again in the inning and depending whether any one is on base. The Mariners do have some right handed pitchers who can pitch to lefties so which lefty he pitches against will depend on who is the best hitter and the situation on how many outs or base runners.
The Mariners did pick up another left handed reliever in the trade with Arizona in Zac Curtis however he likely will start the season in triple A. He may be a year away from helping out the Mariners.
Other free agents the Mariners signed were Chris Heston who will be vying for a spot in the starting rotation along with Casey Fien a right handed pitcher fighting for a spot in the bullpen. Rob Whalen who the Mariners purchased in the trade with Atlanta Braves where they traded away former first round pick Alex Jackson will have a chance to make it as a starter as well.
The Mariners likely will go with five right handed pitchers and two lefties in the bullpen. Edwin Diaz will be the closer and Evan Scribner who had excellent September after being out the rest of last season along with Nick Vincent and Steve Cishek will be the likely key right handers. So that will leave one spot open for several pitchers vying for. Cishek who had surgery during the off-season likely won’t start the season for the Mariners will leave another spot open.
So now we have to look for the next month to see who Dipoto will look at signing or trading for to be part of the starting rotation or other parts of the roster. Go M’s and happy New Year’s to everyone.