The Mariners need help with middle relief, one of their weakest aspects in 2018. The eighth and ninth inning guys are there but a reliable seventh-inning man is key. Sam Tuivailala could be the future one but he’s only 25 and he won’t be 100% for a while coming off a torn Achilles.
The other two middle relief pickups the Mariners acquired disappointed in Adam Warren and Zach Duke. Maybe the team keeps Duke just to have a southpaw in the ‘pen but it may be time to let Warren walk. If the Yankees trade you away while age 31 and well in your prime, something’s up. With 27 titles, the Yanks are probably a safe bet for good judges of talent.
To replace Warren, the Mariners should haul in veteran Santiago Casilla to pitch for his first ever team not based in Northern California. His role should be either full-time seventh inning man or right-handed specialist.
Brooks Baseball has his fastball at “essentially average velocity”. So even though he wouldn’t overpower hitters like Colome and Diaz, he’ll break their backs with off-speed and spot-on location. Luckily in the big leagues, all that fans care about is if you get the hitters out.
And in case Diaz became injured or just needed a rest from save opportunities (61 in ’18), Casilla brought home 38 saves as a Giant in 2015. And oh yeah, remember the Giant’s unlikely dynasty of three World Series titles in five seasons? Casilla was in the Golden City for every one of those squads.
In his three San Francisco postseasons, Casilla threw a total of 16.2 innings with 20 strikeouts. In three of his regular seasons, he finished with an earned run average under 2.00. Two of those three seasons were Giants title years so he made a difference for the better.
If there are any red flags, it’s that Casilla is 38 years old and was let go by a 2018 A’s team that wasn’t exactly known for middle relief (until after the trade deadline). We need to go with the proven reliever and three-time champ by signing him to a one-year, $550,000 contract. Weak middle relief hurt the Mariners last year so addressing it with Casilla would be a start.