The outstanding Seattle Mariners bullpen from the 2021 season is expected to be even better next year, largely due to the return of closer Ken Giles.
In February, the Mariners signed Ken Giles to a 2-year, $7 million contract, knowing full well that he would miss the entire 2021 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. After Giles posted a 1.87 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, and 14.1 K/9 in 2019 with the Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle felt confident they would be getting a star closer for 2022 (and potentially 2023).
Known by some as “100 Miles Giles”, Ken Giles’s fastball sits around 97mph consistently, but can easily jump to at least 100mph in any given at-bat. As far as his arsenal is concerned, Giles features an extremely balanced fastball-slider combination; he threw almost precisely 50% fastballs and 50% sliders during his last full season in 2019.
The Mariners have already seen in-house success with pitchers returning from Tommy John surgery, including Kendall Graveman bursting onto the scene as one of the best closers in the American League in the first half of last season and Andres Munoz joining the fray during the final series of the season , so Seattle clearly has the belief that pitchers can still be effective (or, perhaps, even more so) once they have recovered from surgery.
Paul Sewald, Drew Steckenrider, and Diego Castillo all figure to have late-inning roles in Seattle’s bullpen next season, but as the Mariners’ front office continues to work to improve the roster this offseason, it’s possible we could see one of them traded to bring in an offensive reinforcement. So, despite, the success of last year’s bullpen, Giles’s return could be more impactful than what we’ve been prepared to expect.