Mariners: Could Scribner Be The Future Set-Up Man?
By Adam Levi
The Mariners waited for nearly the entire season to get a chance to see reliever, Evan Scribner at work in the big leagues. After a long stint on the DL, he finally made his Mariners debut in September. Now that his brief, but spectacular debut is over, the question becomes: what is next for Scribner? Could we have seen the blossoming of the Mariners next set-up man?
Just a few months after Scribner was traded to the Mariners from the Oakland Athletics, Scribner began to experience back issues. It was in March when Scribner was first plagued by back problems as a Mariner. It was only the middle of spring training, yet, Scribner’s whole year was now in jepordy.
It was the previous season -before he was traded from Oakland- when Scribner first had these type of injury issues. In September of 2015, the right-hander was placed on the sixty-day DL for a torn lat muscle. It seems, that the middle part of his back would never heal fully because, not even six months later, he was back on the DL with the same issues.
After many months of recovery passed, Scribner began to quickly work his way back up the minor league system, proving that he was healthy enough to pitch in the major leagues. Then, nearly six months later, he was ready to make his Mariners debut.
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So, on September 2nd, he stepped onto the mound and easily finished off three Los Angeles Angels (including Mile Trout) for a perfect eighth inning. Two appearances later, he would impress again. Facing the Texas Ranger, Scribner would pitch 1.2 innings while allowing one hit and striking out a man. This would earn him his first hold with the Mariners as it was a 6-3 game in the sixth.
Over the next three weeks, Scribner would continue to shine. By season’s end, he had pitched fourteen innings while giving up just five hits, two walks, and no runs. With an ERA of zero and a WHIP of 0.50 over that period of time, it’s almost impossible to get any better than that.
With numbers this good, it’s hard not to think that Scribner should have a shot at the set-up man spot for next season. With no one proving worthy in the bullpen last season, the Mariners are in need of someone who can be as dominant as their closer Edwin Diaz. And, from the small sample size, Scribner might be able to stand up to that challenge.
In 2015, Scribner was tested as the set-up man in Oakland. For the most part, it went well. In six outings when Scribner was on the mound with the Athletics up by three runs or less in the eighth, he gave up the lead twice. Although, he also secured three holds in those types of situations as well.
As he showed back then and this past year, Scribner was on his game when his curveball had a mean bite to it. The movement is very tricky compared to his low-nineties fastball, confusing batters. And now, with the entire off-season to train and be healthy, we should expect an even better Evan Scribner.
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If Scribner can consistently make his curveball have a nasty break, and add that to his slider as well, a low-nineties fastball will become a power-pitch compared to all the off-speed movement. Doing this could make him one of the most potent set-up men in the league.
And, with numbers like he had in 2016, there’s little reason to think he won’t continue to dominate. The new role (if he gets it) might even enhance his numbers.