Move #1: Move Matt Brash out of the 9th
Flamethrower Matt Brash has a beautiful baseball-savant page littered with elite metrics. He ranks in at least the 92nd percentile in eight categories. The problem is opposing batters have a .412 batting average on balls in play despite Brash landing in the 99th percentile in barrel percentage. Last night's disastrous inning in Kansas City was a microcosm of the 26-year-old's season.
The 25-year-old reliever had a less-than-stellar stat line (1/3 IP, 2 H, 2 R) amounting to his team-leading fourth blown save of the year. According to Future Star Series' Joe Doyle, Brash has fired five innings of ineffective ball (10.80 ERA, 2.400 WHIP) in the ninth inning. It's time to move Brash back to a lower leverage pocket to regain confidence and lighten his workload (59 G).
Move #2: Elevate Justin Topa
I'll admit it. I had not learned who Justin Topa was when Jerry Dipoto acquired him this winter. I had a good idea, though, mainly because the Mariners have a type regarding relief arms. Well, 100 games into the season and Paul Sewald now toiling in the desert has me firming in Camp Topa.
The oft-injured reliever has authored a breakout rookie season and is the Mariners' hottest bullpen arm. Topa is holding the opposition to a .197 BAA while maintaining a spectacular strikeout-to-walk rate (24.6% K – 4.6% BB). Additionally, he's allowed a remarkable zero barrels since June 27th. That sure sounds like your high-leverage replacement for Brash.
Move #3: Recall Prelander Berroa
Rookie Bryan Woo is scheduled to come off the injured list this weekend (August 20th). The team plans to unveil a six-man rotation for the next few weeks to protect their young arms and keep Luis Castillo, George Kirby, and Logan Gilbert fresh. There are always pros and cons for the six-man starting staff.
The biggest drawback is one less arm in the bullpen. That's why having relievers who can go multiple innings is imperative. Scott Servais and pitching coach Pete Woodworth already have Tayler Saucedo, Trent Thornton, and Isaiah Campbell as multi-inning options. I'd look to add one more low-leverage arm with the ability to throw multiple frames, and the guy for the job is Prelander Berroa.
Berroa's initial stay with the big-league club was short-lived, as the team saw the need for more seasoning. Since June, the Mariners' No. 12 prospect has fired 16 straight scoreless outings and punched out 27 batters. Scouts say the command is sharp, which was the only thing holding him back. Adding Berroa to the pen and sending Ryder Ryan to Tacoma would infuse some high-upside swing-and-miss stuff to the team needing a solid bridge from the starters to the backend arms.