Seattle Mariners Spring Training Preview: The Bullpen
Sep 23, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Seattle Mariners relief pitcher Dominic Leone (52) throws a pitch during the fifth inning in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. The Toronto Blue Jays won 10-2. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
4. Rafael Perez
These guys are almost shoe-ins, but there are some other options so I will say they will “maybe” find their way into the ‘Pen on Opening Day. With relief pitching so deep in the Mariners organization, some very difficult decisions will need to be made.
Ultimately though, I think these three are the ones, rounding out the top-7 in 2015.
Carson Smith, the young flamethrower who pitched 8.1 innings of no-run ball in 8 games in September, will be the odd-man out, as will Rule 5 draft pick up David Rollins. Not because they aren’t deserving, but because they are younger, have options, and could benefit from more polishing in the minors.
Medina has been tough the last two seasons with the Mariners, posting a 2.68 ERA in 57.0 innings in 2014. His 60 strikeouts and .229 batting average against were both impressive. Though I think Smith is more talented and will eventually find his way into the ‘Pen in 2015, Medina is the incumbent and will get the nod.
I think Dominic Leone starts in the ‘Pen once again after a very fortuitous and exciting 2014. In 57 games and 66.1 innings pitched, Leone found himself with an 8-2 record with 70 strikeouts. He had the 6th most wins by a pitcher in 2014 for the M’s. He stays in the ‘Pen because he has devastating stuff, has a proven track record throughout last season, and he has more experience than the younger Carson Smith.
Rafael Perez will eek his way into the ‘Pen over the other left-handed reliever options over Rollins and Luetge. Luetge struggled in 12 games and 9.0 innings with the Mariners in 2014, posting an even 5.00 ERA with 3 home runs allowed, 5 walks and only 7 strikeouts.
Rollins, who the M’s picked up in the Rule 5 draft, has a chance to replace Joe Beimel in the M’s ‘Pen and be the other left-handed specialist with Furbush. I think he has the stuff– from the limited pitching I’ve seen– but will ultimately lose the spot to the experienced and recently signed veteran in Perez. Though Perez is on that minor league deal, the Spring Training invite gives him the opportunity to excel with the M’s.
Next: Probably not, but maybe at some point