The Mariners added a left-hander to their bullpen Thursday, claiming Sean Doolittle, the former Oakland and Washington closer, off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds.
To make room for Doolittle, right-handed reliever Keynan Middleton was designated for assignment.
Doolittle was 3-1 with the Reds this season with a 4.46 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP. He has one save this season and 112 for his career.
“He certainly has a ton of experience,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said of Doolittle before Thursday’s game against Kansas City. “… He’s always had a really good arm, and he’s a really smart guy. I do know that.”
Doolittle, 34, had 75 saves for the Washington Nationals from 2017 to 2019 after the Nationals acquired him in a midseason trade in 2017. He has a career ERA of 3.19 and WHIP of 1.02.
Doolittle has pitched in the postseason during five seasons with a 2.42 ERA. He had a save for Washington in Game 1 of the 2019 World Series, which the Nationals won in seven games.
Doolittle was a star first baseman and pitcher at the University of Virginia, and was drafted in the first round by Oakland in 2007 as a first baseman before converting to pitcher a few years later.
He was an American League All-Star in 2014 and an NL All-Star in 2018.
“He’s an interesting guy and an interesting story,” Servais said, citing how he began his pro career as a first baseman. “I am excited to have him join the club. Not sure when that exactly will be. It could be tomorrow, it could be another day after.”
Middleton, 27, was optioned to Class AAA Tacoma on Wednesday. He was 1-2 with four saves and a 4.94 ERA for the Mariners. He walked 19 in 31 innings and had a 1.58 WHIP with Seattle.
The Mariners have seven days to trade Middleton or place him on irrevocable outright waivers.
Justus Sheffield getting work in relief
Left-handed pitcher Justus Sheffield (left forearm strain) was expected to throw in relief Thursday night for Class AAA Tacoma. Sheffield has made just one relief appearance in three seasons with Seattle, but Servais indicated that will be his role when Sheffield returns to the big-league club.
“He has started his whole career, but where we are at right now, we really like how our starters are throwing the ball,” Servais said. “That has been explained to him.”
“He really could be a nice piece for us, somebody we can use out of the bullpen who has been built up to four innings,” Servais added about Sheffield.
Servais reaffirmed that outfielder Kyle Lewis (knee) is “getting really close to going on a rehab (assignment)” and that might come at some point this weekend.
“I think he is feeling really good about where he’s feeling physically, and now we have to get the timing going and hoping that can happen sooner rather than later,” Servais said.