Josh Kinney used to be good.
I say this with the fairly confident assertion that you know little of Kinney’s past, that, like me, you were familiar with his name only because you took the Sporcle Mariners Spring Training quiz approximately 80 times this spring so people would assume you knew the roster very well. (It worked, by the way, but only until the season started and I didn’t have to remember Jesus Sucre or Guillermo Quiroz or Carlos Guillen.)
Until last night, however, when I briefly entertained the idea of Kinney making his Mariner MLB debut, did I realize that I know next to nothing about him—which brings me back to my initial statement.
Josh Kinney was good approximately six years ago. He wormed his way into the majors with a stint in the Frontier League, circa 2001. From 2001 to 2006, Kinney climbed from one minor league team to the next, eventually receiving a promotion to the Cardinals’ major league team after finding success with the AAA Memphis Redbirds.
2006 marked not only his breakout year, but his best year to date in MLB. He was used in relief 21 times, posting a SIERA of 3.34 and a FIP of 4.03. In 21.0 IP, he collected 17 hits, 9 runs, and 22 strikeouts. Most notably, he pitched in both the NLDS, NLCS, and Games 2 and 4 of the World Series, his first and last postseason appearances to date.
From 2007 – 2008, Josh Kinney faced a bit of a regression in the majors; mostly due to his recovery from Tommy John surgery. With that in mind, let me correct myself once more: major league Josh Kinney used to be good. Minor league Josh Kinney still manages to impress as a reliever, consistently posting an ERA under 2.80 in his last 3 years traipsing the farm systems of St. Louis, Chicago, and Seattle.
This season, Kinney made 27 appearances for the Rainiers. As part of a pitching staff that includes Mariners notables like Andrew Carraway and Danny Hultzen, Josh found ways to earn notice with a 2.27 FIP and 3.45 K/BB. Next to Oliver Perez, another recent addition to the Mariners’ bullpen, Kinney has struck out the highest number of batters among Tacoma relievers, with 38 Ks in 36.2 IP.
The fluctuation of success found in major league and minor league clubs is not the most comforting sign when promoting a player, especially with the incoming waves of new starters and relievers waiting to take their shot at Safeco Field. Still, as a short-term fix, Kinney should be able to settle in well for a handful of appearances—and if he sticks, who knows? Maybe he’ll be closing out another World Series run in the near future.