Seattle Mariners’ Spring Battles: Second Southpaw Reliever

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Sep 1, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Seattle Mariners relief pitcher Lucas Luetge (44) pitches against the Oakland Athletics at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Falling Behind: Joe Saunders & Lucas Luetge

Joe Saunders and Lucas Luetge were considered by most pundits to be the favorites to win this job entering spring training, but both pitchers have struggled mightily thus far.

Feb 26, 2015; Peoria, AZ, USA; Seattle Mariners pitcher Joe Saunders poses for a portrait during photo day at Peoria Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Saunders has been lit up this spring. The 33-year-old has allowed seven runs on seven hits across just two innings of work. He has been hit hard, and Saunders has surrendered two home runs already in spring training. Perhaps the most concerning part his performance is that he has been awful against essentially minor league competition. Saunders has looked bad late in games against prospects and backups. He will have to turn things around quickly if he hopes to be heading north to Seattle for opening day.

Luetge has bounced back and forth between Seattle and Tacoma in each of the past three seasons. He has not pitched very well this spring, as he has allowed three earned runs on five hits across three innings of work. He has also been burnt by the long, allowing one home run this spring. Obviously, Luetge is ahead of Saunders at this point, but he is in serious danger of not making the Mariners’ bullpen. Luetge is out of minor league options, so he will have to pass through waivers if he is unable to crack the M’s opening day roster.

It is not too late for both of these players to recover in this competition, but it will not be easy to overtake Tyler Olson and David Rollins. Joe Saunders in particular looks washed up; he has no life on his fastball and seems lost on the mound. Luetge has had success with the M’s in the past, and he could do it again in the future. However, I still believe Olson or Rollins will win this battle.

Next: Seattle Mariners Narrowing Candidates for Final Rotation Spot

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