Back in August 2020, the Mariners made a trade with the Padres. All of us know that it has turned out wonderfully for the Mariners. At the time, the most intriguing piece in the deal was a young reliever coming to the Mariners. He threw 100+, was only 21 years old, and was out for the foreseeable future with Tommy John. Andres Munoz was thrown into the deal, and the Mariners had an exciting youngster on their hands.
I don’t think anyone can honestly say that they expected anything like what we have seen from Munoz. Sure, flamethrowers can be nasty, but that hasn’t even been why Munoz is good. He can touch 103 mph with the heat, but the slider sends opponents to their knees and ranks as not only his best pitch but one of the best in baseball.
Andres Munoz gets an A for his 2022 report card
I want to give him an A+. I really do. It’s hard to do for a guy that gets crushed whenever he throws heat. You wouldn’t think it, but Munoz does not have a good fastball. I didn’t think I would ever say that about a reliever that averages 100.2 on his 4-seamer. However, when you get tagged for a BAA of .338 and an SLG of .500, it’s a reasonable statement.
He still has to throw it though, because it sets up the devastating slider. Maybe people just sit straight heat with him, because they know they can’t touch the slider. In comparison, opponents hit just .126 with an SLG of .176 against it. It was the 11th-best pitch in baseball for Run Value, and the third-best by a reliever, trailing just Edwin Diaz’s slider and Dillon Tate’s Sinker.
His chart is pretty much pure deep red, which means he is at the top of the league and dominating each of those stats. He started using the slider much more once the calender got to June. We may forget, but Munoz actually had an ERA of 5.28 on the last day of May. Part of that was an awful outing against Boston, where he gave up four runs in 0.1 innings. Still, he wasn’t looking too good throw the first two months.
Then, he embraced the slider.
From June 1st through the end of the season, Andres Munoz would make 47 appearances. He gave up just two HR in 49.2 innings, and walked only nine. He had a minuscule ERA of 1.63 and an even lower FIP of 1.38 to go along with a slash line against of .150/.204/.204. People went from tagging Munoz to not being able to even touch him. He struck out 74 over that time period, good for a rate of 13.41 per 9.
I’m glad he embraced the slider.
When you add in the slow start, and the fact that it seemed like he was tired at the end of the year, I can’t give him an A. Sure, his tiredness actually might be an injury, of which he is set to undergo surgery on his foot to correct an issue that was afflicting him late in the season. Still, he had to throw in every postseason game and just didn’t have the same effectiveness.
Andres Munoz turns 24 this offseason, and the Mariners are going to have him under control through 2028 thanks to an extension they signed with him. He is set to be a mainstay in their bullpen, and looks ready to make hitters look foolish for years to come.