Last Sunday, the Seattle Mariners made a move to bolster their bullpen by acquiring left-handed reliever Ryan Borucki from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for infield prospect Tyler Keenan.
The Mariners have primarily depended upon Anthony Misiewicz as their situational bullpen lefty for the last couple of seasons, but it appears his performance hasn’t been up to the team’s standards. Misiewicz’s season ERA of 4.61 was trending towards his career 4.48 ERA, so Seattle decided to make an upgrade.
Ryan Borucki, a 28-year-old in his fifth season of Major League action, features a heavy sinker-slider combination while also mixing in the occasional changeup. His sinker, his most oft-used pitch, averages 95mph with 24 inches of vertical drop; last season, his sinker only dropped 19 inches on average, so fans can expect higher strikeout numbers from Borucki this season than he’s put up in the past.
Borucki throws his slider nearly as often as his sinker, but with a spin rate on his slider in only the 22nd percentile among MLB pitchers, it’s mainly only used to throw off hitters as opposed to being a consistent out pitch.
Originally, the Blue Jays planned to use Borucki as a starter; he started 17 games for Toronto as a rookie in 2018, and pitched his way to an impressive 3.87 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. However, he dealt with severe elbow inflammation to begin the 2019 season, then was shut down in July after making two poor starts when he was activated from the Injured List. From 2020 on, the bullpen became his home, where he excelled in the shortened 2020 season but has since struggled.
Tyler Keenan, the M’s parting gift to the Blue Jays in exchange for Ryan Borucki, had been a Top-30 prospect in Seattle’s system for the past couple of seasons; expect the Mariners to give plenty of opportunities to Borucki this season after moving a valued prospect for his services.