Mariners 2023 Report Cards: Andres Munoz, Closer of the Future?

The Mariners have some impressive arms in their bullpen. When healthy, Andres Munoz might be the best out of all of them. Let's recap and grade his 2023 season.

Los Angeles Angels v Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Angels v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

The 2023 Seattle Mariners were, by most accounts, a disappointment. This is not breaking news. The first season in a long time, with real postseason expectations, and the team could not make the playoffs. Offensive inconsistency, lack of rotation depth and a shaky (at times) bullpen led to a slow start, and a slow finish. But one of the bright spots on this team was Mariners closer, Andres Munoz.

Andres Munoz, much like the 2023 Mariners as a team, came into 2023 with high expectations. As part of the Mariners 3 headed monster at the back of the bullpen (Along with Matt Brash and Paul Sewald), Munoz looked to continue his 2022 success as a dominate pitcher. Munoz was shaky at times, but overall, he was great again in 2023. At the Trade deadline, the Mariners ended up trading their closer Paul Sewald to the Arizona Diamondbacks for some offensive help. Munoz had to step up and fill Paul's shoes. But did he?

Munoz finished his 2023 season with a 2.94 ERA in 49 innings, striking out 67 and walking 22. He only gave up 2 home runs all season. According to Baseball Savant, he is in the 90th percentile or better in xERA (94%), xBA (91%), Fastball Velo (98%), Whiff (99%) and K% (95%). Opponents hit just .184 against his fastball, while they hit .230 against his slider. That is a lot of baseball jargon, but just know that those are elite numbers.

While Munoz did not give up the long ball hardly at all, he struggled at times to find the strike zone. His walks per 9 innings jumped from 2.1 in 2022, to 4.0 in 2023. He walked 7 more batters in 14 less innings in 2023 compared to his 2022 campaign. That was what seemed to get Munoz into trouble more times than not. His Hard Hit % (35.8%) was better than league average (36.3%).

Overall, I give Andres Munoz a solid B.

MarinersBack in April, Munoz was placed on the Injured List with a right deltoid (Shoulder) strain. He missed about 2 months with the injury. Could this have led to his elevated walk rate in 2023? Possibly. Andres also had ankle surgery last offseason, so he did not have a normal buildup to spring training and beyond. Hopefully, Andres will be healthy and ready to go come February. Unless the mariners bring in a top-of-the-line closer during the offseason, Munoz will be back and closing games for the Mariners in 2024. As always, Go Mariners!