Seattle Mariners Spring Training Preview: The Bullpen

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The Shoe-Ins:

Sep 26, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners first baseman Logan Morrison (20) and relief pitcher Fernando Rodney (56) celebrate after defeating the Los Angeles Angels at Safeco Field. Seattle defeated Los Angeles 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

1. Fernando Rodney

2. Danny Farquhar

3. Tom Wilhelmsen

4. Charlie Furbush

Each of these four bullpen pieces was indispensable in 2014. As the closer, Rodney led all of Major League baseball with 48 saves. And though the 9th inning was deemed the ‘Fernando Rodney Experience’ for the heart palpitations he gave to Mariners fans, he will be the closer in 2015.

The 8th inning guy, Lord Farquhar, was better than Rodney in 2014, and earns a lot less. His 71.0 innings pitched were second only to another shoe-in, converted long reliever Tom Wilhelmsen. Farquhar carried a 2.66 ERA through his 71.0 IP, most impressively striking out 81 batters over those frames. He will be the 8th inning man to start the season at the very least.

Then there’s former closer Tom Wilhelmsen. His 2013 was a mess, and saw him lose the closing job. 2014 started slowly, but the Bartender found his stride as the long reliever out of the ‘Pen. Some debated whether the Mariners would consider trying him as a starting pitcher. The M’s could elect to have the loser in the rotation battle– i.e. whoever would be their #6– start in the ‘Pen as a long reliever, but that 6th guy will most likely be Roenis Elias, who has minor league options. Worth noting: Erasmo Ramierz is OUT of options, so if he does not make the starting rotation out of Spring Training, the M’s will have to expose him to waivers before sending him down.

Lastly, I’ve got Charlie Furbush as the last of the 4 shoe-ins. More than anything else, the ‘Bush is the only proven left-handed reliever in the Mariners organization. He had a rough go to start 2014, but he hit his stride midseason and provided a necessary lefty specialist for the Mariners. Though he carried a 3.61 ERA in 2014, he had a respectable 1.16 WHIP– behind only Wilhelmsen and Farquhar as full-season relievers– and his ERA could drop in 2015.

So deep with reliever talent, it is difficult to distinguish the ‘Maybes’ from the ‘On the Outside Looking Ins’, but that’s exactly what I intend to do.

Next: The Maybes