Last season the Mariners had few options to turn go to out of the bullpen should one of their starters falter. After a series of transactions this off-season, the Mariners have added several arms who can come in long relief or be a spot starter. Which is a sign the M's do not want to find themselves in the position they were last season where they had to push their young starters when they struggled. While also testing their durability to go deep into games with a thin bullpen.
In 2023, the only option the Mariners had as a spot starter or long reliever was Chris Flexen. The Mariners would eventually trade Flexen in July of last year along with Trevor Gott, in what was seen as a salary dump at the time. Flexen went (0-4), with a 7.71 ERA last season, in his role as a long reliever and spot starter. His lack of production coupled with injuries to the M's bullpen, made the Mariners thin on relievers in 2023.
Bullpen depth became an issue for the Mariners, as they lost relievers Penn Murfee and Andres Munoz to injuries in the first half of the season. Though Munoz would make his return to the bullpen, Penn Murfee missed almost the entire season due to injury. Seattle then traded Paul Sewald to the D-Backs which put strain on the Mariners bullpen. Seattle would have to throw Matt Brash and Justin Topa over 75 games a piece. While using reliever Gabe Speier a total of 69 times out of the pen.
Adding depth to the bullpen this off-season was crucial, given how much the Mariners stretched out their relievers in 2023. Here are the relievers Seattle has added in this off-season so far: Jackson Kowar, Austin Voth, Anthony DeSclafani, Carlos Vargas, Joey Krehbiel, Ty Buttrey, Maurcio Llovera, Tyson Miller, Brett de Geus, and Cody Bolton. Of those relievers, expect Jackson Kowar, Austin Voth, and Anthony DeSclafani to be the guys the Mariners turn to as long relief or spot start options.
Voth and DeSclafani in particular should play a role, as long relief options. The Mariners have made it clear they want to use Voth and DeSclafani as either spot starters or long relievers in 2024. Jackson Kowar should expect to have a similar role to Tommy Milone, if he makes the 40-Man Roster out of Spring Training. Kowar was once a top 100 pitching prospect in the Royals farm system, and is now looking for fresh start after struggling to break through in his three seasons at Kansas City.
The Mariners have done a good job in the past of turning unknown relievers into hidden gems. Think of Gabe Speier and Justin Topa last year. The most relief appearances Speier had prior to 2023 in a season, was 17 in 2022. For Topa his career high for games pitched was seven in 2022. Both Speier and Topa combined for 144 games and 123.2 IP in 2023, for the Mariners. Looking at the new arms the Mariners have added for 2024, the M's are hoping to strike gold once again. With a big list of arms hoping to make a name for themselves.