What Will The Mariners Get Out Of A Healthy Steve Cishek?

Mariners reliever Steve Cishek had quite the year. He ended it in pain after returning from the disabled list to finish the season without properly dealing with a torn labrum. As of today, he’s still mending his hip after an October surgery to finally fix this nagging injury but is expected to be fully recovered and pitching again, possibly as early as opening day.

It’s looking like the 2017 Seattle Mariners bullpen is going to be fairly inexperienced. Of the ten men currently listed on the pen’s depth chart, only four of them have more than five years training at the big league level. Steve Cishek is one those four.

Cishek has the second-most games under his belt at the big league level –Marc Rzepczynski has played more, four hundred and nineteen total games to be exact.

Over Cishek’s seven years in the major leagues, he has played three hundred and seventy-three games, with sixty-two of those coming in a Mariners uniform.

His gained knowledge in the trenches during those three hundred and fifty-plus games will be very useful to the young majority in the bullpen, especially since he will be fully healed and not distracted from the nagging hip pain that plagued him much of last season.

If his recovery goes as planned, we can expect to see Cishek back on the mound inside Safeco Field come early May, but considering his great mood and mobility as showcased on his Instagram post, we shouldn’t count him out from being part of the Mariners opening day roster.

Freedom. #fistdaywalking #2monthsofcrutchesnomore #praisethelord

A video posted by Steve Cishek (@srshrek31) on

The big question that everyone is asking now is: With Cishek unhindered by injury, what can we expect out of him in 2017?

Amazingly, Cishek had a great inaugural season with the Mariners, despite the constant pain, and the nearly three-week stint on the DL in August.

He was at his best after his three weeks on the sideline and in his new role as a middle-reliever instead of being the team’s closer.

During his eighteen appearances from late August until the season’s end, Cishek had an ERA of 1.10, a personal record of 2-0, a batting average against of .167, but most importantly he helped his teammates to a 12-6 team record in the final month of the season in the midst of a serious playoff push. And again, this was before his hip surgery.

Cishek did struggle, though, before his mini-recovery in mid-August. His poor pitching also coincided with his role as the Mariners closer.

As the team’s shutdown man, Cishek blew six saves, had a record of 2-6, an on-base percentage against of .277, and an ERA of 3.26. After his sixth recorded loss, Cishek was replaced by the young flamethrower Edwin Diaz.

Now that he will be fully healed in 2017, and in a role that suited him very well, should the Mariners expect big things from Steve Cishek? If history is any indication, yes they should.

From 2011-2013 with the Florida/Miami Marlins, Cishek pitched often, never missing more than a week of playing time between appearances. Because of this routine and a clean bill of health, Cishek was able to post a 2.54 ERA over one hundred and eighty-two games with a HR/9 of .3 in that span.

If he could pull off those numbers when he was healthy a few years back and even post a middle-relief ERA of 1.10 this past year while injured, imagine what this new and improved Steve Cishek will be able to do. He may finally earn his first all-star appearance, and hopefully, push the Mariners into the playoffs for the first time in sixteen years.