The Mariners claimed a lefty November 9th, 2022, from the Royals, in a pretty under the radar move. The 28-year-old lefty had thrown a career 40 innings over 4 seasons with the Royals with a 3.83 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and 7.9 K/9. Those are pretty unspectacular number, but as with any reliever the Mariners acquire, you sort of wondered what kind of arm he might develop into, given their history of turning relievers careers around.
Gabe Speier started the year, pretty good, but not anything too crazy. In April he threw 11 and 1/3 scoreless innings which is impressive, but only struck out 8 while walking just 1 batter. A rough May and June had many wondering if they needed to look elsewhere for an arm. The months of July August and September, he was absolutely dominant and showed his true potential. During those 3 months he threw 26 innings with a 3.47 ERA, but where showed his upside was on his strikeout numbers. In those 3 months, he struck out batters at a rate of 12.81 K/9, showing his potential to be a very valuable late-inning reliever.
I give Gabe Speier a B+ for 2023
Speier was a waiver claim with a whopping 40 innings pitched. He showed what he can become in the right situation and opportunity and he made the most of it. He guaranteed himself a spot in the 2024 bullpen, as a solid arm that can get you some big outs when needed. He had some rough spots throughout the year which is why I couldn't bump it to an A- but given the fact that he was just a waiver claim, he was more than worth it. Plus, his newfound confidence and "screw it" mentality made him very entertaining and something this bullpen was lacking.
Gabe Speier is still pre arbitration eligible, meaning there are a lot of years of control there for him. As we all know, relievers careers are very up and down and hard to predict. Much is probably the same here, but I think there is potential that Speier becomes a key part of this bullpen given his controllability and minimal salary.
That paired with his elite strikeout numbers and minimal walks, means he fits right in with what the Mariners want with their bullpen arms. He spoke to Ryan Divish on his increased confidence level and how his change in mentality has taken that next step in career. I expect a few teams to reach out the Mariners this offseason in regard to Speier, but he is more valuable for what he is in your bullpen than what he might fetch you in a trade.
Plus, he has shown an ability to get out the biggest pain in the butt for Mariners fans that is Yordan Alvarez. Alvarez went 0 for 4 in 2023 against Speier with 2 strikeouts, non-bigger than the one on August 20th, in route to a 3-game sweep of the Astros.