We are now 47 days away from Mariners opening day. So, let’s take a look at the new weapon out of the bullpen, #47 Rafael Montero.
Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto traded for Rafael Montero last month to bolster the lackluster Seattle bullpen. Not only will Montero be an important arm this season, but he is also under Seattle’s control until 2023.
Montero was a sneaky addition by Jerry Dipoto and I expect him to be a crucial part of the Mariners future as we begin to climb up the AL West.
What Mariners fans should expect from Rafael Montero
Rafael Montero isn’t the most seasoned veteran per se. Despite being 30-years-old, he’s only played in six MLB seasons and thrown 239 innings.
Interestingly enough, Montero was actually a starting pitcher to start his career, but he became a reliever after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. The switch revitalized his career just like Brandon Morrow, a familiar name among Mariners fans.
Montero has a career 4.93 ERA, but that doesn’t tell the entire story. What Seattle fans should be looking at are his past two seasons with the Rangers.
In 2019, his first season back from elbow surgery, he threw 29 innings and posted a 2.48 ERA. On top of that, he had a 210 ERA+, 3.38 FIP, 0.966 WHIP, and 10.6 K/9.
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Last season, he got his first taste of saving games. He threw 17.2 innings and saved eight games. But, he took a step back and posted a 4.08 ERA, 113 ERA+, 3.70 FIP, 1.019 WHIP, and 9.7 K/9.
It is a small sample size, but the more comfortable he gets in the bullpen, the better he will become. One thing that stands out for me with Montero is his WHIP. Compared to the likes of Yohan Ramirez, Montero doesn’t allow too many runners on.
Based on all of that, I expect Montero to post a sub 3.50 ERA as the Mariners closer. At the moment, he seems to be the front runner to close off games.
Baseball Reference on the other hand projects him to post a 4.15 ERA, which I think is a little high. Montero has proven to be a solid reliever and I think he will continue his success into 2021.
This season will also be important for Montero because he has an opportunity to solidify himself as the future Mariners closer. Seattle just signed Ken Giles, but he most likely will not pitch until 2022.
If Montero has an amazing 2021, he might just move up on the pecking order and surpass Ken Giles.