Mariners History: A Look at the Relievers of the Early Years

Today we look at the relievers who worked out of the bullpen from the expansion team into the early 90s.  Some of these guys had personalities beyond the normal player as well.

The Seattle Mariners first closer was Enrique Romo, whom they purchased from the Mexico City Reds out of the Mexican League on April 1, 1977. Romo spent two years with the Mariners before being traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he helped them win the World Series over the Baltimore Orioles in 1979. In his two years with the Mariners, he pitched in 114 games with a record of 19-17 and an ERA of 3.25 over the course of 211 innings.

The Mariners had four other pitchers who appeared in at least 40 games, mostly working out of the bullpen in 1977. They were John Montague, Diego Segui, Mike Kekich, and Bill Laxton.

Before 1978, the Mariners acquired 22-year-old left-handed reliever Shane Rawley from the Cincinnati Reds for outfielder Dave Collins. He was in Seattle for four seasons where he was used primarily in a setup role. He appeared in 205 games over the four years with an ERA of 3.79.

With Romo gone the M’s made Byron McLaughlin the closer in 1979 after being a starter in 1978. He had a record of 7-7 with an ERA of 4.22 with 14 saves. Again, he was with the Mariners in 1980; however, he had a horrible season with a record of 3-6, and an ERA of 6.85. After the season, the Mariners traded McLaughlin to the Minnesota Twins. The Twins released him before the season started.

During the early 80s, the Mariners had Ed Vande Berg as the team’s left-handed specialist. He pitched in 272 games in four years for Seattle with an ERA of 3.75 and a record of 21-21. Ed’s rookie season,1982, was his busiest, throwing in 78 games. He had a record of 9-4 with an ERA of 2.37. On December 11, 1985, he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for veteran catcher Steve Yeager.

Bill “The Inspector” Caudill was the first closer during the time of Vande Berg. The M’s acquired Caudill from the Chicago Cubs before the 1982 season. He had an outstanding season with a record of 12-9 with an ERA of 2.35 and 26 saves. In 1983, his ERA skyrocketed to 4.71 with the same amount of saves. The Mariners traded him to Oakland.

Mike Stanton, a right-hander, was the joint setup man along with Ed Vande Berg for most of the four years together. He appeared in 184 games in those four seasons with an ERA of 3.90.

Mike Schooler became the Mariners closer in the late 80s. He was drafted by Seattle in the 2nd round of the 1985 draft. He made his debut for the Mariners on June 10, 1988. After the All-Star break, he became their closer.

In 1989, Schooler was third in the American League in saves with 33. His ERA was 2.81. The next season, Schooler had another outstanding year, posting an ERA of 2.25. He had a shoulder injury, forcing him to miss the last month of the season, which caused him problems the next two seasons. The Mariners released him during spring training in 1992.

Mike Jackson was an outstanding setup pitcher throughout his career. He was with the Mariners from 1988 through 1991, then again in 1996 after having success in San Francisco and Cincinnati. In all, he pitched 17 years in the major leagues. In the five years with Seattle, he had a 23-26 record and an ERA of 3.38, making 335 appearances without starting a game.

Though the Mariners had many losing seasons during this period they had some of the best relief pitchers in their franchise history.