Back in 2018, the Mariners traded away James Paxton. As part of the return package, they received a young RHP by the name of Erik Swanson. Things weren’t really working out for him as a starter once he got to the Mariners, so they shifted his role a bit. He was quietly pretty good in 2021, but 2022 would show a whole different side to the Mariners reliever.
He was one of the question marks from many in the Mariners fandom. Would he be good enough to hold up as a reliever for a full season? Would he be one of the odd men out in an RH-heavy Mariners pen?
Instead, Erik Swanson had the best season of a Mariners reliever and gets an A grade on the season
Seriously. Swanson was nasty this year. He dominated all season and ended up with an incredible 222 ERA+. For reference, the “League Leader” was Justin Verlander at 215. Relievers don’t qualify for the lists I could find, so I’m just going to say he led all of baseball. (I know it’s not true, but if you can’t take a joke, go away).
With a 1.68 ERA and a 1.85 FIP, Swanson was exceptional this year. He hardly walked anyone, just 10 in 53.2 IP, and struck out 70 along the way. What’s amazing to me is that hitters were actually lucky against him, with a BABIP of .300, percentage points above the league average of .295.
His worst stretch of the season came between September 21st and 25th when he would give up multiple runs on both of those days, once to the Royals and once to the Athletics. They were actually back-to-back appearances, so I’m gonna blame it on the mild sickness that was going around the clubhouse at the time. Do you know how many other appearances he made this year where he gave up multiple runs?
He only gave up a run in six other outings, and actually gave up just four total runs through August. He held an 0.84 ERA at the turn of the month and was one of the largest reasons for the success of the Mariners. Swanson came on, and it was lights out.
He dominated hitters who approached on both sides of the plate as well. Check out his splits against both RHP and LHP.
- RHP – .205/.271/.284 – 88 AB, 1 2B, 2 HR, 7 BB
- LHP – .200/.222/.295 – 105 AB, 7 2B, 1 HR, 3 BB
He might walk an RHB. He might give up a 2B to an LHB. Most of the time, it didn’t matter who it was that came to the plate to face him. They were going to walk away disappointed. Maybe Servais should’ve thrown him against Alvarez? Yes, I’m going to be snippy about that all off-season.
Anyway, Erik Swanson was incredible this year, and one of the highlights of the Mariners bullpen. Sure, you could say it’s odd to see so many good grades for the Mariners pitchers so far, but it’s for good reason. The pitchers that we have talked about all had great seasons, and are deserving of good grades. It’s why Swanson sits at the top of the list and easily earns his A.