The first two legs of the current road trip (New York, Cincinnati) have seen Mariner starters need help to log more than five innings of work, either by design, like Bryan Woo against the Mets, or George Kirby failing to make it out of the third. Their performance has put a tremendous strain on the bullpen, which President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto noted with Brock and Salk (Seattle Sports 710).
"I think they are pooped. I'm loath to judge performance when I know we are asking a ton out of them."- Jerry Dipoto on the M's Bullpen
Dipoto added that roster limitations, such as allowing no more than 13 pitchers, play a significant role in what moves he can make to solidify the bullpen. But there are some things he can do to help the relief corps. The first move they can make is swapping out an underperforming Dominic Leone for Casey Sadler, who is toiling his wares for the Tacoma Rainiers.
This might sound like an "Overreaction Monday" type take, but given that every game is essential, you can't continue to run Leone out there. The 34-year-old reliever has made three appearances since joining the team via the Angels' fire sale. The results? Well, I'll leave this right here.
Leone's role was always served as a bridge reliever, a viable arm that could get manager Scott Servais from the starter to the high-leverage guys. With that context in mind, I'd suggest Dipoto calls on Casey Sadler, who is back up to normal velocity after an extended rehab.
2021 was a breakout year for Sadler, as he spun a 62.9 groundball rate and stranded 90.9% of his inherited runners. I'm not saying that is repeatable; the traditional statistics look terrible (8.10 ERA, 13 IP, 12 R). But I urge you to use the eye test, pitch movement, and the increased velocity for this one.
The Mariners could use more good vibes and a feel-good story to propel the playoff push. It doesn't hurt when the player in mind is just what the doctor ordered. It's time to call on Casey Sadler, and while you're at it, Jarred Kelenic is ready, too.