Seattle Mariners “My Guy” Series: Hunter Strickland
When asked about who My Guy for the Mariners would be this season, I had a hard time picking one player. Of course, I thought Mitch Haniger but thought that wouldn’t really be fair as he can’t be My Guy since he is “The” Guy for all Mariner fans this year.
I was intrigued by the possibility of Tim Beckham (which Josh Maduell wrote up here) and Domingo Santana, but I decided to go for the guy that I had been pining for all winter, relief pitcher Hunter Strickland.
Why a reliever you might ask? Hunter Strickland isn’t just a reliever, he’s an attitude. It’s been well documented during his career that Strickland has had a few momentary lapses of judgment. From igniting a brawl with Bryce Harper to punching a door and breaking his hand, Strickland shows something that the bullpen badly needed after trading Edwin Diaz to the Mets: fire.
Diaz brought an attitude and swagger to the bullpen last year (in addition to being ridiculously good), and that attitude has to be replaced. That might sound silly to some, but we all have our own reasons for selecting a player as My Guy for this season. I believe that Strickland’s temperament will make him worth watching. While we need him to stay healthy (and the doors of T-Mobile Park to stay intact), he brings an attitude to the bullpen that will need a new leader with all of the departures from last season.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Strickland, when healthy, has been a successful reliever that has struck out 211 batters in 226 career innings and has shown that he can close out ball games as evidenced by his 14 saves with the San Francisco Giants last year. While saves are an overrated stat, they demonstrate Strickland’s ability to function in high leverage situations.
With a rebuilt bullpen someone needs to step up and become the team’s go to high leverage reliever and Strickland can be that guy. At 30 years of age Strickland is young enough, and under club, control long enough (won’t become a free agent until 2022), that the Mariners could choose to keep him beyond this year and he could be a building block for the bullpen moving forward. Or he could be lights out until the trade deadline and be moved for a solid prospect or two as relievers are always in high demand come July.
Hunter Strickland’s fire will make him fun to watch, but his ability to deal with high leverage situations will make him a vital cog in a rebuilt Mariners bullpen. I’m excited to see what he can do this year, go Hunter Strickland!