Ideal 2010 Mariners Bullpen
Most of the uncertainty surrounding the 2010 Mariners is focused on the rotation, and because of this there hasn’t been a whole lot of talk about what the pen is going to look like. Much like there is an abundance of starting candidates, there is an abundance of relief candidates. The M’s are most likely going to carry 6 relievers – probably a closer, a setup man, 3 middle relievers, and a long relief/mop up guy.
Let’s assume for this that Carlos Silva is going to get another shot at the starting rotation out of the gate – and for the money we’re paying him, he probably will. So what’s the bullpen going to look like?
Mop up/Long relief: Chris Jakubauskas
This spot is going to be tough to predict, as there are probably going to be at least 3 or 4 guys vying for one spot. Not only that – but we don’t even know which guys those are going to be yet. If it were to come down to Jak and Olson, though, unless Olson can seriously improve his command between now and 2010, Jakubauskas would be the best option. He’s done a decent job of mop up this season, and I don’t think there’s any chance of him being in the rotation next year. Either way, the Mariners shouldn’t have any trouble finding someone for this role.
Middle Relievers: Sean White, Shawn Kelley, Joshua Fields
White should be a lock given the way he’s pitched this year, and the same goes for Kelley if he’s deemed healthy. The third spot is where it gets foggy – there are other candidates, such as Randy Messenger, Chad Cordero, Mike Koplove, to name a few, but I expect one of Fields/Aumont to earn a spot. Fields probably has a better chance of being ready by 2010, but unless we trade Aardsma in the off season, he’ll probably be slid into a middle relief role for at least one season.
Setup: Mark Lowe
Lowe has pitched really well this year, and assuming we re-sign him, he’s all but guaranteed himself sole possession of the setup role in 2010. This year has been his best by far, posting a tRA under 4, and he probably has the best stuff in that bullpen right now. Having an eighth inning guy with a devastating slider and a fastball that can touch 100 is quite the weapon.
Closer: David Aardsma
Aardsma has gone from a journey man reliever to a shut down closer on a winning team in a matter of months. This season has brought life into his career, and assuming we don’t trade him between now and April, there’s no reason to think he won’t be right back into the closer role. He’s benefited from both pitching at Safeco, and pitching with our insane outfield defense behind him, but he’s still been really good. That 3.43 tRA pretty much says it all.
Our bullpen hasn’t been very good this season, but you’d be surprised at how much of a difference losing a guy like Miguel Batista makes. The relief core won’t be stellar in 2010, but it looks to be more than passable.
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