Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto made no secret of his attempt to revamp the M’s rotation and their bullpen this offseason. He made countless moves to bring in new players for the pen’ but, as we’ve seen in spring training, there’s a number of guys who were already in the system who are fighting for a spot as well. The M’s have 25 spots on their Opening Day roster. What would an eight-man bullpen mean for their playoff chances?
With the offense in check for 2017, Mariners manager, Scott Servais, may want an extra option in the bullpen to see which arms he may want to use throughout the season.
According to interviews with The News Tribune’s, Bob Dutton, Servais told Dutton this about the idea of having an 8th man in the bullpen:
"“We’ve discussed all kinds of different options in how you want to break and who you play on that first road trip,” Servais said. “How we match up with their lineups. That will be a decision we’ll make right at the end of camp.”"
Since the end of the 2016 season, the Mariners brought in -whether by trade or waiver-wire pick up- over a dozen new arms that have worked in or could fit in the bullpen in 2017. The team has another half dozen or so arms that have already been in the M’s system that look like they are at or near MLB-ready form.
From new guys like Marc Rzepczynski, the still recovering from injury, Shae Simmons, Casey Fien, James Pazos, and Rob Whalen to M’s minor leaguers like Thyago Vieira, Paul Fry, Andrew Moore, and Dylan Unsworth to proven Mariners like the also recovering from injury, Steve Cishek, Edwin Diaz, Nick Vincent, and the newly demoted from the rotation, Ariel Miranda, to name a few, the M’s have a boat-load of players all fighting for those eight spots.
So many options and so few slots puts Scott Servais in a position to quickly figure out which of the nearly two dozen potential choices for the bullpen will give the Mariners the best chance to win.
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Giving the Mariners an eight-man bullpen takes one spot away from the potential utility players that are also fighting for a spot this spring.
When it comes to battles like Guillermo Heredia vs. Ben Gamel in the outfield or Taylor Motter vs. Shawn O’Malley for an infield utility role, not to mention that it is known the Mariners will platoon with Danny Valencia and Daniel Vogelbach at first, the competition becomes greater as they know that there is one less spot ready to be filled.
The fact is, the all teams have 25 roster spots to fill to have a full roster. An eight-man bullpen immediately takes up a third of those spots. The starting rotation takes up another five and the starting lineup takes another nine. That leaves three slots -two if you include the platoon at first- open for anyone else in the Mariners organization to earn an Opening Day roster spot.
If the bats produce if they are expected to and Servais can wisely choose other bats that can produce at the plate and on the field, an eight-man pen early on or even through most of the season could prove to be very valuable when the Mariners are wondering he should be pitching down the stretch in a likely playoff run.