Two-time All-Star Sean Doolittle
34-year-old Sean Doolittle would bring the exact veteran presence that the young Mariners bullpen needs. Like Hand, Doolittle could fill a variety of roles in the back-end over the course of the 2021 season. With his 22 save All-Star campaign of 2014 excluded, Doolittle was mainly a late-inning option during the beginning of his Major League career in Oakland.
Doolittle’s role changed when the A’s flipped him to the nation’s capital before the 2017 deadline in a package deal that netted Oakland a then 19-year-old Jesus Luzardo. Doolittle immediately became the Nats closer, going on to finish the season with 21 saves in 30 appearances and continued that success into 2018, earning his second career All-Star nod.
2019 was a bit of a different story, however, as batters began to square up Doolittle much more frequently. His home run to fly ball rate jumped nearly five percent and opponents average exit velocity rose over six MPH. Doolittle’s ground ball rate went down seven percent as his K% also plummeted, striking out 11% fewer batters. This yielded a 4.09 ERA and six blown saves.
In a tiny sample size, Doolittle lost his closer’s job and seemingly his confidence as well in an ugly 60-game sprint for the Nationals in 2020. A change of scenery is desperately needed for Doolittle coming off a World Series hangover. Doolittle would be an outstanding bargain signing for the Mariners, as he would be able to come in and immediately work with a coaching staff that has a desire to improve pitchers’ velocity and barrel missing ability.
Last but not least, a pitcher who has been a rock for several teams.