Mariners Bullpen: The Highs and Lows Over The Opening Series

Apr 6, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Seattle Mariners relief pitcher Edwin Diaz (39) pitches during the ninth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 6, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Seattle Mariners relief pitcher Edwin Diaz (39) pitches during the ninth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

We all know what a good bullpen can do for a club. It could make or break a season, and even make or break a postseason. Over the opening series vs. the Astros, most of the Mariners bullpen showed up. It’s something that should excite the Mariners fanbase for the rest of the ’17 season.


Let’s start off with the “lows”. The only hiccup that occurred was the heart-breaking game three.

It started in the bottom of the 7th inning with the M’s up 2-0. Evan Scribner started the inning, giving up back to back singles to get things going. Lefty specialist Marc Rzepczynski was called upon and retired Josh Reddick. After facing one batter, fire breather Dan Altavilla was brought into the game.

Altavilla surrendered a single to load the bases for the Mariners biggest nightmare, George Springer. A double down the leftfield line tied up the game with one out in the 7th.

As the game went on and seven relief pitchers came and went, rookie Chase De Jong was called into the game, making his major league debut.

After a ground out, walk, and pop out, Nori Aoki singled to put the winning run on first. Again, the person who seemed to single-handedly spoil the Mariners opening series, came up to bat. George Springer homered on a hanging slider from De Jong to win the ballgame. It was a crushing moment that really, really hurt Mariner fans.


The good thing is that the Mariners bullpen’s “highs” by far overshadowed the lows.

Overall, the Mariner bullpen did a fantastic job in the opening series. Besides game three, the bullpen had allowed only one run over the other three games. They kept the potent Astros lineup at bay, allowing only three hits in games one, two, and four.

One of the biggest bright spots was on Opening Day. James Pazos, making his Mariner debut, came on in relief. He threw 1.1 innings, facing four batters and only throwing 11 pitches, nine for strikes. It was a very impressive debut for the hard-throwing lefty.

Another standout performance came in game three. In the bottom of the eighth, game tied, Pazos came in and surrendered two singles to lead off the inning. After retiring Yulieski Gurriel, Casey Fien came into the ballgame to keep the game tied.

After retiring Evan Gattis on a fly ball, sending Carlos Correa to third, Fien struck out Josh Reddick, ending the threat.

In the bottom of the ninth, young phenom Edwin Diaz came into the game to make his very impressive season debut with the game tied. After walking Aoki, Diaz got Springer to ground into a double play. Diaz ended the night throwing two innings, allowing one hit and striking out two.

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Nick Vincent also threw well in game three. After giving a leadoff double, and a sacrifice bunt to send the winning run to third, and one out, again, George Springer came up in another clutch spot. He got Springer to ground out to shortstop, keeping the game tied. Alex Bregman then flew out to center, ending the threat.

In game four, the bullpen came up clutch again. Pazos came into a tied ballgame in the 6th inning, facing the minimum through two innings, striking out one.

Into the eighth, Altavilla came in the game to face the heart of the Astros lineup. He struck out the side, Jose Altuve swinging, Correa looking, and Yulieski Gurriel swinging.

After the Mariners took the lead in the top of the 9th, “Fast Eddie” Diaz came in to close the game. He faced the minimum, striking out two batters to lock down the Mariners first win of 2017.

After 15.2 innings pitched, the bullpen has combined 3.45 ERA, allowing six earned runs (five coming in game three), striking out 11 and holding the Astros to a .241 batting average, with really the only damage coming in the 13-inning marathon game three.

Next: Mariners of the Future

If they can keep up their pitching excellence, and the offense can come around, you can expect this club to make a serious push for the highly competitive AL West crown.