Mariners Spring Training is now underway and the first game of spring will be live tomorrow! We still have 33 more days to go until the first game of the regular season, so let’s take a look at number 33 Justus Sheffield‘s excellent 2020 and preview his 2021.
Justus Sheffield has a chance to be a mainstay in this rotation with Marco Gonzales along with the slew of pitching prospects that the Mariners have coming up. Justus started 10 games in 2020 and had a 3.58 ERA and an excellent 3.17 FIP. He had a rough and inconsistent start to the season but had an excellent September when he started 4 games (2 against playoff teams) and only allowed 6 runs in 25 innings.
What was also interesting about Sheffield’s 2020 was that he abandoned his 4 seam fastball in favor of what Baseball Savant calls a sinker and what most others have called a 2 seam fastball. He also had consistent control but tended to throw his pitches (Sinker/2 Seamer, slider, changeup) in the same spots, so if he can work on his control painting the black more in different spots he could become an ace.
How about Justus Sheffield in Mariners Spring Training?
I see the Mariners staff working with Justus on diversifying the locations on his pitches to make him more effective, which in watching his highlights he seemed to do more towards the end of the year when he was pitching very well.
While right now all we know is that Marco Gonzales is starting game one of spring and Kikuchi is starting game two, Sheffield will get his opportunity sometime next week. Also so far this is all we have seen of Sheffield in spring training. It’s not exactly a glowing endorsement, but it also against the number 5 prospect in baseball.
The Mariners have 5 more years of team control on Sheffield and are 2 years away from even hitting arbitration. While we don’t know if it will be a 6 or 5 man rotation in the future, we know that Sheffield will be a part of it.