Mariners: Drew Steckenrider earns a spot and he deserves it

SARASOTA, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 29: Drew Steckenrider of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch (Mariners). (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
SARASOTA, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 29: Drew Steckenrider of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch (Mariners). (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
Drew Steckenrider throws (Mariners).
MIAMI, FL – MAY 01: Drew Steckenrider of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch (Mariners). (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

We recently found out that Drew Steckenrider will be a part of the Mariners bullpen and will be added to the 40-man roster. Since the roster is full, the M’s will need to make a corresponding move to make space for him.

I’ll be honest, I have ignored Drew Steckenrider for most of Spring Training and barely looked at his Spring Training numbers. But, I took a look at his advanced metrics on Baseball Savant and I was caught by surprise. Based on how he performed in the Cactus League and his past numbers, I am a little disappointed in myself that I didn’t look into it earlier.

Who is Drew Steckenrider?

Steckenrider was drafted by the Miami Marlins in the eighth round of the 2012 MLB draft out of the University of Tennessee and made his debut in 2017. He has thrown three seasons in the MLB as a reliever and owns a 3.72 career ERA. He pitched frequently in 2018 for the Marlins and was quite good.

But in 2019, Drew Steckenrider struggled and posted a 6.28 ERA which sent him into the abyss. He was sent to Triple-A at the end of 2020 and he elected free agency, which led him to sign a minor league deal with the Mariners.

Drew Steckenrider’s 2021 Mariners Spring Training

The 30-year-old stands 6’4″ tall and had one of the better performances on the team. The former Marlin threw seven innings and only allowed two earned runs. He allowed seven hits and four walks, but no home runs. Steckenrider also struck out nine batters.

Drew Steckenrider’s advanced metrics

There aren’t any advanced metrics to look at from Spring Training, but I was impressed with his numbers from 2018. During the 2018 season with the Marlins, his numbers ranked in these percentiles:

That is a whole lot of red (red is good)! Again, these numbers were from 2018 so things might have changed since then. But based on his Spring numbers, he hasn’t missed a beat.

Steckenrider has a mid-90s fastball with a curveball as his main out pitch in 2019. What is interesting is in 2018 (his best season), he threw his slider 16% of the time and his fastball 74.8% of the time. But in 2019, he changed his repertoire to throwing 38% curveballs and 62% fastball, zero sliders. I wonder if that led to his struggles in 2019, after a very good 2019.

As you can see, the U of T product’s curveball spin rate ranked in the bottom of the MLB but batters hit .071 against it. So, I don’t know if that was the main reason for his struggles in 2019 or not.

Another biggest difference between 2018 and 2019 was his barrel %. Batters barreled baseball’s 21.1% of the time in 2019, as opposed to 6.5% in 2018. It sounds like he lived in the middle of the zone too often with his fastball and when he did, batter’s jumped on it. His meatball swing % jumped up to 91.7% compared to 83.2% in 2018.

After doing a little research (which I should have done a month ago), I am very excited and happy for Steckenrider. He might be another sneaky addition by Jerry Dipoto. Drew just needs to get back to his 2018 ways, and we will find out if that’s the case soon enough.

Next. What does a successful 2021 Mariners season look like?. dark