The Mariners have made yet another move during the early, busy November days. Today they picked up the lefty reliever, Dean Kiekhefer off waivers.
The Mariners have added a reliever, Dean Kiekhefer to their forty-man roster today. Now, you may be asking yourself, “Who is this Kiekhefer guy?”, “Is he any good?” and/or, “How do I say his last name?”. All of these would be great questions, and today you will get all the answers to those questions and hopefully many others.
Let’s start with the easy info, like the way to pronounce his name. Here is a quick get-to-know-him video that will answer some questions you may have.
Now, if there’s one thing we learned when watching this brief intro it’s that, his name isn’t as complicated to say as Rzepczynski. But, there were also a couple of other things to pick up in this short clip.
One: It is clear that he is a hardworking blue-collar guy who likes to do his job and do it well in support of his team. Two: He hasn’t spent time on the DL, which is very important for a young pitcher searching for his bread and butter.
He did add “knock on wood” before his injury comment, so if you’re a Mariners fan and you’re reading this, find the nearest piece of wood and don’t stop knocking.
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Other than what we learned in the video, we can see that he has had a fairly impressive minor league career. Over seven years in the minors, he had a record of 20-16 with an ERA of 2.67. That would be good enough to stand out on its own, but when you add his forty-two career saves and a WHIP of 1.116, you see a fuller scoop of his developing potential.
He was so good in fact, that he was even elected to be on the AAA all-star roster. That year he would go on to finish the season with a 2.41 ERA in fifty games.
Unfortunately, his debut season in the big leagues didn’t go as well as he or the St. Louis Cardinals would have liked. Over twenty-six games this past season, Kiekhefer’s ERA was an unpleasant 5.32 over twenty-two innings. He also allowed two home runs, seven walks and hit two batters in that span.
Yet, there is a little bit of deception in his numbers, at least when it comes to the ERA.
Over all of his twenty-six outings, in two of them, he gave up four runs each. In all of 2016, he allowed thirteen runs, and eight of them came in two games. If we recalculate his ERA taking away those outliers, his earned run average drops to a very respectable 2.29.
For an even deeper look at what he’s throwing and how well he’s throwing, here is a more steady breakdown from Brooks Baseball. He has thrown less than five hundred pitches in the big leagues, so keep in mind, it is a fairly small sample size.
"“His fourseam fastball has heavy sinking action, has an obvious tail, has below average velo and results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers. His slider comes in below hitting speed, generates more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ sliders and has primarily 12-6 movement. His change is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers’ changeups, dives down out of the zone and has slight armside fade. His sinker (take this with a grain of salt because he’s only thrown 7 of them in 2016) has heavy sinking action, is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers’ sinkers, has an obvious tail, is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers’ sinkers and has slightly below average velo.”"
From that breakdown, we see that his mechanics and control need work. There are few pitching coaches other than Mel Stottlemyer that do a better with young talent (think of his work with Taijuan Walker and Edwin Diaz this past year).
If Stottlemyer can get this hardworking youngster to embrace his full potential on the major league level, the Mariners will have a very positive addition to their bullpen.