Who is the newest Seattle Mariners pitcher Robert Dugger?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 25: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Robert Dugger, the newest Seattle Mariners pitcher, of the Miami Marlins in action. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 25: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Robert Dugger, the newest Seattle Mariners pitcher, of the Miami Marlins in action. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
Robert Dugger, the newest Seattle Mariners pitcher in action.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – AUGUST 05: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Robert Dugger, the newest Seattle Mariners pitcher, of the Marlins in action. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The Seattle Mariners claim Robert Dugger off waivers from the Miami Marlins

General manager Jerry Dipoto announced three roster moves: one addition, and two losses. The Seattle Mariners lost Ian Hamilton and Walker Lockett after they were claimed off waivers, but the Mariners brought back Robert Dugger from Miami. Dugger was actually drafted by Jerry Dipoto in 2016, the same year that the 2020 AL ROY, Kyle Lewis, was drafted in the first round.

Robert Dugger was selected in the 18th round out of Texas Tech University, which is probably why you do not remember him as a Seattle minor leaguer. He was in the Mariners farm system until the winter of 2017. Dugger was actually acquired on the same exact day he was traded to Miami, but just three years later.

On December 7th, 2017, the Seattle Mariners acquired Dee Strange-Gordon in exchange for prospects Robert Dugger, Nick Neidert, and Christopher Torres. So, claiming Robert Dugger off waivers is not much of a surprise because the Seattle Mariners originally drafted him. He also pitched pretty well in the Miami farm system, until he reached Triple-A.

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What is his pitching profile?

The 25-year-old right-hander mixes in five different pitches. Robert Dugger throws a four-seam fastball, slider, curveball, sinker, and changeup according to Mariners PR. Dugger is not the biggest of pitchers standing at 6’0″ tall, and weighing roughly 200lbs. Over 91 minor league appearances, he posted a 3.84 ERA while striking out 417 batters. 72 of his appearances were as a starting pitcher.

Dugger has pitched briefly in the MLB both in 2019 and 2020. He started seven games in 2019 posting a 5.77 ERA. In 2020, he pitched in four games, and only one as a starter. This past season he posted a 12.66 ERA. Thus far, his big league pitching performances have not been impressive.

But there are positive things about the former Marlins pitching prospect. Dugger was throwing a 90mph fastball in 2019, but he was throwing around 92mph+ in 2020. In between the 2019 and 2020 offseason, Dugger made it a priority to increase his velocity.

It sounds like Dugger is taking a very statistical approach to improve his pitching, much like a Driveline Baseball mindset. According to MLB Trade Rumors, his fastball spin rate also jumped up from 2191 rpm to 2321 rpm. When I was watching some of his highlight videos on YouTube, he actually reminded me a little of Trevor Bauer, who is a big advocate for the “new school” of pitching.

Dugger’s motion also reminded me a little of Sonny Gray and Walker Buehler, who are both around the same body build as Dugger. If he continues to work hard on increasing his velocity and spin rate on pitches, he may be able to transform into a new pitcher.

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How does he fit into the Seattle Mariners pitching staff?

To be quite fair, I am not exactly sure of what his future with the Mariners will be. He is still a young pitcher who has started for most of his professional career, but he made three relief appearances in 2020. I could see Dugger being a long reliever and being a backup for the 5th or 6th man in the starting rotation. Or, if he is able to really change his game he could be a staple in the rotation for the next few years.

The nice thing about Dugger is that he has one more minor league option according to Fan Graphs, so he could start the season in the minor leagues until the Seattle Mariners need him. The Mariners are filled with young talent and are not in a win-now mode yet, so adding a player like Dugger makes sense. Dipoto is adding more young players to develop a strong core and is hoping that a change in scenery and coaching could spark Dugger into a great MLB player.

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