Back in February of 2022, before the season had started, one of our contributors wrote up an article on a player to watch in the Mariners bullpen. He was about to turn 28, had never thrown in the bigs, had some great strikeout stuff but a bit of a walk problem, and was pitching good but not great in 2021 between Arkansas and Tacoma. His name… Penn Murfee.
He started the season in AAA at Tacoma and would be called up to replace a struggling Yohan Ramirez. Curtis (who wrote the article in February) was proven correct instantly, as Murfee came in looking like a seasoned vet with years of experience under his belt.
Yes, I know what happened in Game Three. No, it will not be mentioned here.
Penn Murfee gets an A+ for his 2022 Mariners report card
Murfee would go scoreless in his first six appearances, walking just one and striking out 11 through 8.2 innings. The Mariners would take note and lean heavily on him all season, as he would appear in 64 games. That would be T-46th throughout the entire league, but it should be noted that he didn’t come up until April 29th, which was the 20th game of the season for the Mariners. He appeared in 44.8% of possible games for the Mariners, which would rank 5th in the MLB.
Of those 64 games he appeared in, he gave up multiple earned runs in just four of them. More impressively, he had 49 scoreless appearances. When Murfee came in, you had to make the most of your opportunities against him, cause it wasn’t likely you were going to score. He was arguably the most consistent Mariners pitcher out of the bullpen, and that means a lot to sustained success throughout a season.
His ERA took a hit late in the year when in his 63rd appearance, he turned in his worst outing of the season. Against the Athletics, he would give up four runs in just one inning, jumping his ERA from 2.44 to 2.94. With the playoffs clinched and nothing on the line, it was a fairly meaningless game and doesn’t go against my grading of him at all.
What really impressed me about Murfee was his command. He had a 4.0 BB/9 rate in 2021 but dropped that down to 2.3 this season with the Mariners. With a 9.9 K/9 and a WHIP of 0.952, he really limited the chances for a big inning, as he wasn’t handing out too many free passes. He finished the season with a 2.99 ERA, an incredible debut for something “late” in their career.
Penn Murfee was one of the greatest surprises on the Mariners this year, and the fact that he was an incredibly consistent rookie adds even more to his grade. I have no problem giving him an A+ on the season, as there is nothing else we could’ve asked from him this year.