When the Seattle Mariners brought in Kendall Graveman last off-season, the expectation was that they were bringing in a project veteran coming back after missing a year with Tommy John surgery. A benign tumor in his spine ended up moving him to the bullpen, and Graveman posted respectable numbers for the team with a 4.26 FIP in 11 appearances.
The team elected to bring Graveman back another year and he has rewarded them by being absolutely dominant out of the bullpen. In eight appearances, Graveman has not been touched. He’s given up a total of one hit, walked two, and hit one batter. A run hasn’t been scored on him and he has been without question one of the best relievers in the league, sporting a WAR of 0.4, darn impressive for a non-closing reliever.
His velocity has jumped up to the mid-90’s. And his off-speed pitches have been disgusting, with tremendous bite and break as they approach the hitter. The Mariner bullpen as a whole has been incredible, and Graveman has been their star to this point.
It’s early, but Kendall Graveman may be looking at a potential all-star game appearance.
Of course, every team gets one representative (and Ty France and Chris Flexen are well on their way to being there as well). But every year there are a few relievers that can get in while not closing, and as of right now Graveman has been one of the best. His K/9 is at 10.24, his FIP is 1.73 and his BABIP is a ridiculous .056.
On top of the hot start and potential all-star bid, Graveman is starting to show that he can be a long-term piece in the Mariners bullpen. He’s only 30 years old, and the Mariners don’t exactly have any guaranteed pieces in their bullpen long-term.
Some of their young arms such as Isaiah Campbell or Brandon Williamson could hypothetically end up in the bullpen, but that is still a ways away. Having some continuity in the pen with guys like Graveman and Will Vest could be key for the Mariners down the line.
As they put together pieces in the rotation and the lineup, they’ll need guys to shut it down late. And right now, Graveman is looking like he could be a very effective piece for a few years with the club.