RHP HUNTER STRICKLAND
Of all the closing candidates out in free agency, this may be the most realistic option for the Mariners. For most of the mid-2010s, Hunter Strickland was a dominant force at the back-end of the San Francisco Giants’ bullpen and established himself as one of the game’s premier late-inning relievers.
In 2018, Strickland was given the keys to the Giants’ closer role after Mark Melancon was ruled out for most of the season. Strickland was 14 of 18 in save opportunities, but his last blown save would end up being detrimental to his season and his Giants career.
After allowing three runs on three hits and two walks to the Marlins, Strickland lost control and punched a clubhouse door in frustration, fracturing his hand and landing on the disabled list until mid-August. Upon his return, Melancon had returned and Strickland was eased back in to his usual role.
But the injury lingered and Strickland’s performance suffered, wrapping up his season with a 6.82 FIP in the 15 games since his return. The Giants would go on to non-tender him in late November.
It’s hard for me to look at the end of Strickland’s season and think that’s the pitcher he’s become. At just 30-years-old, there’s great bounce-back opportunity there for him and the Mariners give an ideal stress-free environment to build his value back up.