Exploring Seattle’s Pen


Just a few weeks ago, the Mariners bullpen was an open expanse with plenty of available land and hope for those attempting to bid on a new home. Since then the team has offered Major League contracts to both Hong-Chih Kuo and Shawn Camp, and suddenly the outlook of the bullpen has taken on a different appearance.

If you write in either Furbush or Noesi for the long guy… if you write in Furbush for the long guy…  then realistically you have one spot left open. You have four sensible bodies who have a good chance of earning that last spot. So who are the potential losers of the latest bullpen additions? Let’s mull it over.

1. Steve Delabar

This guy has such a great story going from a substitute high-school teacher to a Major League pitcher, but even better than that, he got really good all of the sudden. Delabar attributes his new found success to a program called “Velocity” designed to build shoulder strength in pitchers. It seems to be working, as Delabar found a large spike in velocity and dominated the minors. Delabar obviously still has a lot to prove because he doesn’t have a huge track record, but his chances of making the team are now slender. However, with a story like his, and the dominating results from last year it’s hard not to root for the guy.  Maybe he’ll surprise us all and snatch up the last spot.

2. Tom Wilhelmsen

Wilhelmsen certainly had a roller coaster season last year. After being abysmal in the beginning of the year, he was sent back down to AA. But after being recalled on August 2nd he was a different pitcher — lights out. This former Brewers prospect has a really good chance to fill the last bullpen spot.

3. Chance Ruffin

After coming over in the Fister trade, Chance was good – not great – in his Seattle stint. Ruffin is probably destined for AAA because he has options and could probably use some more seasoning. Seasoning? Is every underdeveloped minor leaguer a steak? Or perhaps a turkey? Anyways, color me surprised if Ruffin does not start the season in the minors.

4. Cesar Jimenez

Jimenez is out of options. How did that happen? I feel like I’ve seen him pitch in the Majors about 5-6 times. Either way, the organization really seems to like Cesar as evidenced by hanging onto him for this long. He has an excellent chance for being selected to fill the final bullpen spot even though he doesn’t have a lot of time on the diamond recently. The only thing that could prevent Jimenez from making the team is that fact that he is left handed and the team already has two.

Jimenez and Wilhelmsen have the best chance of making the team out of camp, with Delebar and Ruffin being more or less long shots. But the bullpen is always in a constant state of fluctuation throughout the season, so you will see all four of these pitchers (and more) during the course of a long summer. The fact that Seattle has four options to fill this one final bullpen spot shows you how much potential the pen has in 2012.