The Seattle Mariners need relief pitching help, is Emerson Hancock the answer?

With the Mariners looking for bullpen help, could they convert one of their starters, like Emerson Hancock, to a reliever?
Atlanta Braves v Seattle Mariners
Atlanta Braves v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

Emerson Hancock has shown the Mariners he is a capable starting pitcher. He has three quality starts for the Mariners in seven games, with a 5.24 ERA, and (3-3) record. Hancock was sent down to AAA Tacoma prior to the Mariners eventually calling up pitcher Bryan Woo who had been on a rehab stint after recovering from elbow inflammation. How the M's decide to use Hancock going forward should be interesting to follow.

The cons of trying to convert Emerson Hancock to a reliever

As previously mentioned, Bryan Woo spent time on the IL already, with an arm injury. Emerson Hancock did a good job of filling in for Woo and showed how important he can be as a fill-in starter when called upon to pitch. If the Mariners decide to convert Hancock to a reliever, ramping him up to start again will be difficult if the Mariners rotation suffers another injury.

Also, should the Mariners want to sell Hancock as a possible trade chip, turning him into a reliever would affect that possibility too. By turning Hancock into a reliever, the Mariners would have a tougher time trading Hancock as a starter turned reliever. The Mariners would hurt Hancock's trade value by turning him into a reliever if they want to eventually package him for an impact bat.

Why turning Hancock into a reliever could be beneficial for the Mariners

Seattle currently has three key bullpen arms on the IL and has lost Matt Brash for the rest of the season. The Mariners could do what they did with Brash the last two years which is make Hancock a bridge reliever to their setup man and closer. Hancock has good stuff and can throw an assortment of breaking balls and fastballs.

Having a wide array of pitches to choose from would make Hancock a unique reliever, with multiple weapons in his pitching arsenal. Being a bridge to the back end of the bullpen could give manager Scott Servais more bullpen option. Right now, Servais' options are limited in the sixth and seventh innings due to the injuries in the Mariners bullpen. Adding Hancock to the bullpen would provide Servais flexibility in the sixth and seventh innings.

Mariners past starter to reliever conversions

The Mariners have found success turning starters into relievers in recent history. They successfully converted Matt Brash, Erik Swanson, Edwin Diaz, and Kendall Graveman into solid relief pitchers, after they were previously starting pitchers. Each of those starting pitchers have now become full-time major league relievers.

The Mariners need to weigh the pros and cons of converting Emerson Hancock into a reliever

Should they decide to turn Emerson Hancock into a reliever, the Mariners need to keep in mind that making this move will impact his future and theirs. Though turning Hancock into reliever could provide them a much needed bullpen arm right now, doing so will make it harder for Hancock to go back to being a starting pitcher. What the Mariners ultimately decide to do with Emerson Hancock will be an important decision.