Seattle Mariners History: Relievers from 2011-Present
A look at the major relievers who pitched for the Mariners from 2011 through 2018 along with those who are on the ballclub now.
The Seattle Mariners began this last decade with Brandon League as the closer. The Mariners acquired him from the Toronto Blue Jays for Brandon Morrow on December 23, 2009. He was a setup man his first season of 2010 than they turned him to be closer in 2011 where made the all-star team as well.
He had 37 saves while pitching in 65 games with an ERA of 2.79. The next season he was replaced as the closer after having several blown saves. The Mariners were in 4th place of the American League West so they traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the trading deadline.
Tom Wilhelmsen became closer in place of League. The Mariners signed Wilhelmsen as a free agent after being out of baseball where he working as a bartender before the 2010 season. This is where he got the nickname “the bartender”. During 2010 he spent the season in the minor leagues before making his debut in Seattle in 2011. He spent that season working in the bullpen before coming the closer in 2012.
The Bartender was the Mariners closer through 2013 when he became a setup reliever. He did become closer again during 2015 season. After the season he was traded to the Texas Rangers for outfielder Leonys Martin, however, the Rangers released him and he once again became a Mariners on June 22, 2016, for the remaining of the season. He was released after the season and signed with Arizona.
During his time in Seattle, the bartender had 68 saves while appearing in 296 games over six seasons. He had an ERA of 3.01 for those six years.
David Pauley who was a starter for the Mariners in 2010 became a reliever in 2011 however he was traded to the Detroit Tigers at the trading deadline along with Doug Fister for lefty setup specialist Charlie Furbush, and outfielder Casper Wells.
Furbush was reliable coming out of the Mariners bullpen from 2012 through 2015, however, he didn’t pitch in 2016 and had to have torn a rotator cuff in August 2016. He never returned to the major leagues after that. He announced his retirement last month.
Furbush was a starter when he came to the Mariners where he started ten games. He didn’t become a member of the bullpen until 2012. He appeared in 220 games out of the bullpen. His final season of 2015 he had an ERA 2.08 coming in 33 games. He was a great guy beside making his time in Seattle as a lot of fun.
Another lefty who was in the bullpen the same time as Furbush was Lucas Luetge. He was with the Mariners from 2012 through 2014. The Mariners picked him up in the Rules 5 draft from the Milwaukee Brewers. He was in the organization in 2015 but spent most of the year at triple-A Tacoma. In the three years with Seattle Luetge appeared in 110 games with an ERA of 4.35.
Fernando Rodney was the Mariners closer in 2014 well for a while in 2015. He had 48 saves in 2014 with an ERA of 2.85. Each time he came in though he made the coaching staff along with the fans nervous each time. He didn’t pitch as well in 2015 so the Mariners traded Rodney to the Chicago Cubs on August 27, 2015.
Before 2016 season the Mariners signed Steve Cishek as the closer. He had pitched with Miami Marlins and St.Louis Cardinals in 2015. He was the closer for most of the season. He had 25 saves while pitching in 62 games with an ERA of 2.81. Cishek was the setup reliever usually coming in the 8th inning in 2017 when he was traded to Tampa Bay for Erasmo Ramirez on July 28, 2017.
Edwin “Sugar” Diaz arrived on the scene for the Mariners on June 4, 2016. He was drafted by the Mariners in the 3rd round in 2012. Jerry Dipoto and his staff felt his fastest track to the major leagues were as a reliever which turned out to be true.
Diaz became the Mariners closer on August 1, 2016. He finished the season with 18 saves and an ERA of 2.79. In 2017 “Sugar” appeared in 66 games with 34 saves. In 2018 he was almost unhittable throwing in 73 games tying Bobby Thigpen with 57 saves for second place all-time in a season. He had an ERA of 1.96. He struck out 124 hitters as well while walking 17. Diaz was named 2018 American League Fireman of the Year.
Jerry Dipoto decided after this season to rework or retool or whatever name you want to call it so he traded Diaz along with Robinson Cano to the New York Mets. The Mariners picked up top prospects right-handed pitcher Justin Dunn who could make his major league debut later in the year and outfielder Jarred Kelenic the Mets number one prospect.
He will start the season in single-A. The Mariners also picked up veteran outfielder/first baseman Jay Bruce, along with veteran pitcher Anthony Swarzak who was activated on April 2 off the injury list. The final player the Mariners picked up Gerson Bautista a reliever who currently is on the injured list. He could be activated soon or sent to triple-A on a rehab assignment.
Other relievers the Mariners had in the bullpen were Yoervis Medina 2013-15, the popular Danny Farquhar 2013-15, Brandon Maurer 2013-14, Dominic Leone 2014-15, Joe Beimel 2014-15, Mike Montgomery 2015-16 began as a starter than turned into a reliever in 2016 was traded to Chicago Cubs for first baseman Daniel Vogelbach on July 20, 2016, Vidal Nuno 2015-16, Tony Zych 2015-17,
Nick Vincent 2016-18, James Pazos 2017-18 ( traded to Philadelphia after the season with shortstop Jean Segura), Juan Nicasio 2018 had injured filled year included in the Segura trade as well, Marc Rzepczynski lefty specialist 2017-18 (released on June 6, 2018), Emilio Pagan 2017 (traded before 2018 for infielder Ryon Healy), and Alex Colome who the Mariners acquired on May 28, 2018, with outfielder Denard Span. He was used mainly as the Mariners 8th inning setup man. During the off-season, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox for catcher Omar Narvaez.
The Mariners have seven relief pitch currently on the 40-man roster who was on the team last year. Dan Altavilla has been the longest standing reliever on the team. Dan made his debut on August 26, 2016, is called up from double-A Jackson. He pitched in 15 games with an outstanding ERA of 0.73. In 2017 he made 41 appearances with an ERA of 4.24. He spent some time in Tacoma as well.
Altavilla started 2018 with Seattle however had to go on the disabled list because of joint inflammation. He pitched in only 22 games for the Mariners in 2018. This year he was with the team when they went to Japan. He did get into a game however was being wild which he has had some trouble with over the last couple years or so. When the team went to the 25-man roster he was sent to Tacoma.
Shawn Armstrong the Mariners acquired before last season from the Cleveland Indians spent the year in Tacoma primarily as the closer but did come up when the roster expanded in September. He had outstanding time appearing in 14 games with an ERA of 1.23.
He came in mostly as the first pitcher out of the bullpen although he did get one save in the last win of the season for the Mariners. He currently is on the injury list. Depending on what happens he should make this season’s debut soon. With Hunter Strickland out on the 60-day injured list the Mariners are going with closer by committee so I expect Armstrong will have his chance to close.
Sam Tuivailala the Mariners acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals before last season’s trading deadline was hurt in August and had to undergo surgery. He is on the injured list right; not expected back until around June 1. The Mariners are hoping to get a lot of Sam when he does return. He could end up being the Mariners primary setup man.
Chasen Bradford the Mariners picked up on waivers from the New York Mets before last season started. He began the season in Tacoma, however, he was called up on April 9, 2018. He did a good job in relief for the Mariners. Bradford had a record of 5-0 pitching in 46 games, walking only 14 batters while striking out 38 with an ERA of 3.69. He is hoping to be a major contributor to the Mariners bullpen this year.
Roenis Elias returned to the Mariners in 2018 after starting his career with Seattle. In 2014 and 15 he spent his time in the Mariner rotation than he was traded to the Boston Red Sox before the 2016 season. He spent two years mostly in the minor leagues with the Red Sox. The Mariners reacquired in April 2018 where he first went to triple-A Tacoma. He was recalled on June 1 where he spent most of his time coming out of the bullpen in long relief. This year Elias could be used in long relief, left-handed specialist and close.
Matt Festa the Mariners drafted in the seventh round in 2016 moved up quickly in the Mariners system. He spent most of 2018 in double-A Arkansas though he was brought up to the big club on several occasions. He appeared in eight games with an ERA of 2.16. He made this year’s team right out of training camp. He likely will be used anywhere from the sixth inning on.
Nick Rumbelow the Mariners picked up from the New York Yankees before last season. He started the season injured than activated by the Mariners on June 14, 2018. He pitched in 13 games with an ERA of 6.11 for the Mariners.
After being on the opening day roster Rumbelow was sent down to on April 3 to make room for Connor Sadzeck the Mariners acquired from the Texas Rangers for a minor league pitcher. He was out of options for the Rangers.
Other new relief pitchers this season on the Mariners roster are Brandon Brennan, Cory Gearrin, and left-handed specialist Zac Rosscup they signed as a free agent going into this season.
I am sure we will see more changes in the Mariner bullpen for the rest of this year and the years to come long as Dipoto is general manager. It will be interesting to see who the next super reliever who will be like Edwin Diaz. Go M’s.