HOUSTON — When Mariners manager Scott Servais was discussing the strength and depth of a bullpen that has already been outstanding, he mentioned the experience of right-hander Joe Smith and left-hander Sean Doolittle, which served as a reminder that they were indeed on the team.
“I think our bullpen right now is as strong as it’s been at any point in the season,” Servais said, mentioning the recent return of Anthony Misiewicz and Diego Castillo and the emergence of Erik Swanson and Yohan Ramirez. “I mean, that’s a pretty good bullpen.”
It’s been pretty good all season.
Seattle came into Monday with a 6.8 wins above replacement (WAR) from Fangraphs, which was second only to the Rays (7.5) and Yankees (6.9). The Mariners’ bullpen has allowed 0.85 homers per game, which is third lowest in MLB. The bullpen’s 3.80 ERA is eighth lowest in MLB and fourth lowest in the American League.
Several relievers use the word unselfish when describing the success. They don’t think in terms of roles but situations and opportunities.
But with so many changes, starting with the trade of Kendall Graveman in July and the roster maneuvering with Class AAA Tacoma, it can be difficult to remember who is in the bullpen.
Currently, Seattle is carrying 11 relievers in the bullpen:
- Paul Sewald – The best reliever and used in the highest leverage situations against the best hitters.
- Drew Steckenrider – Often used as the closer if Sewald is used earlier in the game.
- Joe Smith – Experienced? His 823 appearances are the most of any active pitcher in baseball.
- Casey Sadler – Solid in the sixth and seventh innings, he’s allowed one earned run in his past 18 appearances.
- Yohan Ramirez – When he’s throwing strikes, he might have the best pure strikeout stuff of any pitcher in the ‘pen
- Erik Swanson – If he can command his split-finger fastball to go with his elevated fastball, he can dominate hitters.
- Diego Castillo – A little inconsistent since being acquired, his slider is still one of the best pitches in baseball.
- Matt Andriese – He’s got plenty of experience and is perfect for middle-innings relief.
- Anthony Misiewicz – He’s battled through some injuries and contact-tracing absences, but still a trusted reliever.
- Sean Doolittle – He’s been a little up and down this season, but no situation is too big for him.
- Justus Sheffield – With his slider, he’s effective against both lefties and righties and works multiple innings. This might be his future role.
Noelvi Marte, Alberto Rodriguez promoted to Everett
The Mariners made a series of promotions within their minor-league system Monday with two notable prospects moving up from Class A Modesto to Advanced A Everett.
Infielder Noelvi Marte and outfielder Alberto Rodriguez will play the final month of the season with the AquaSox after putting up outstanding numbers for the Nuts for the first four months of the season.
Marte, ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the Mariners’ organization and No. 8 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America, was one of the youngest players in the Cal League at 19 (he turns 20 on Oct. 16).
In his first full season, Marte posted a .271/.368/.462 slash line with 24 doubles, two triples, 17 homers, 69 RBI, 87 runs scored, 23 stolen bases, 58 walks and 106 strikeouts in 99 games and 478 plate appearances.
Rodriguez, 20, was acquired from the Blue Jays at the trade deadline in 2020 in exchange for Taijuan Walker. He played in 93 games for Modesto, posting a .295/.383/.484 slash line with 30 doubles, five triples, 10 homers, 63 RBI, 75 runs scored, 13 stolen bases, 51 walks and 95 strikeouts in 431 plate appearances.
The AquaSox are on the road at Eugene on Tuesday through Friday. They return home Tuesday, Sept. 14 for a six-game homestand against Spokane.