Mariners’ Paul Sewald Had a Career-Altering 2021 Season
By Connor Tweet
In January 2021, Paul Sewald signed a minor league contract with the Seattle Mariners at the veteran’s minimum of $570,500. Ten months later, he finished the best season of his major league career and established himself as one of the most effective relievers in baseball.
Unless you moonlight as a New York Mets and/or University of San Diego Toreros fanatic, you probably had no idea who Paul Sewald was before this year. Hey, I don’t blame you, and I doubt Paul does either. Sewald sported a career 1-14 record in a 4-year tenure as a reliever with the Mets through 2020, and his career trajectory didn’t look… promising.
However, the Mariners took a chance on him. They saw a player whose fastball was beginning to paint the edges and whose slider was starting to look nasty, and they figured he was worth a look. After starting the 2021 season as the opening day starting pitcher for the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers, Sewald was called up to Seattle in mid-May (albeit flying under the radar, as his call-up came alongside top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert).
Once Paul Sewald got called up to the Mariners, he made it clear he wouldn’t get sent back down.
Sewald finished the 2021 season with a 10-3 record, 3.06 ERA, and an eye-popping K/9 of 14.47, which was good for 3rd among AL relievers (and incredibly entertaining to watch). He quickly became a fan favorite in Seattle due to his uncanny ability to escape bases-loaded jams, strike out some of the league’s best hitters with ease, and for unleashing a primitive scream after each successful outing.
Baseball fans from around the league were a bit thrown off by Sewald’s signature eccentricity, but I, for one, couldn’t be a bigger fan. #SeaUsWald forever.