The Seattle Mariners have developed a great pitching development pipeline over the last several years. They have turned no namers into significant contributors and already good players into stars. They had a great bullpen last year, headlined by Paul Sewald, Drew Steckenrider, and Casey Sadler. There will be some players most don’t know of or talk about that could have an impact on the Mariners bullpen next year, and one of them is Penn Murfee.
Penn Murfee is a name that many Mariners fans may not know, but he should be better known than he is. He is going to be 28 in May, and he is not a top prospect by any stretch, but he could be a player who makes an impact on the Mariners pitching staff in 2022. He has bounced back and forth between being a starting pitcher and reliever throughout his minor league career.
In 2021, Murfee started the season in AA Arkansas and started 10 games, even having one complete game. He had a 4.13 ERA there in 52.1 innings, but most importantly, he struck out 27.1% of the batters he faced there. He really gets a lot of deception because he has a very unique delivery and pitches like no one else. Here is a video of his time in AA, striking out Royals top prospect Bobby Witt Jr.
Then after a strong showing as a starter in AA, he was promoted to AAA Tacoma where he started a little bit but moved to a swing role. He had a slight rise in ERA but had only 26.1 innings. He struck out even more batters, over 30% of them in AAA. That is a very high rate, and only 2 Mariners pitchers had a K% of over 30% in 20 innings or more in 2021. That means that Murfee could be one of the best strikeout pitchers in the M’s organization.
At AAA Tacoma, he put up very similar numbers to his AA ones. He walked a few more batters in AAA than he did in AA. However he limited home runs better in Tacoma compared to Arkansas. He wasn’t a great pitcher, but he did have times where he dominated the hitters he faced. Striking out over 30% of batters is no small feat, and it could make Murfee a possible player to see the big leagues in 2022.
The Mariners have many relievers who on paper should be very good. However, there are always injuries and a possibility for certain players to not perform. If the Mariners get into a situation where they have to call upon their relieve depth, which they most certainly will. The Mariners used 38 pitchers last season, so they will have to call up some players next year for stretches of time.
This means that Murfee could be one of the players called up as depth in 2022, and he should. He can be a starter, but probably not at the big league level. However, this means that he can go a few innings at a time if he needs to. If the Mariners get a bad outing from Logan Gilbert and they have to pull him after 3 innings, then they can turn to Murfee to get to the 6th inning and he won’t hurt them. He could be a very sneaky reliever for them in 2022.
The Mariners should seriously consider using Penn Murfee as a depth reliever in 2022. He has shown that he can strike out lots of batters in the minors, and he should be able to do so in the Major Leagues. He is a very sneaky and under-the-radar name for the Mariners to use in relief next year and could be a valuable part of their bullpen mix in 2022.