Photo Credit: Baseball America
September 1st is when major league teams are fully able to call up their 40-man rosters, which means that they’ll be able to spell some of their starters and lengthen their bullpens. One of the teams that will benefit most from the roster expansion is the Seattle Mariners.
The Mariners have been heavily beaten by the injury bug as they’ve used 38 different pitchers, and 17 different starting pitchers. At times Seattle has seen 80% of its projected starting rotation — from spring training — on the disabled list and that’s caused some major wear and tear on its bullpen. And the pen has been showing signs of exhaustion in the last few weeks of this brutal August schedule.
General manager Jerry Dipoto has made a series of moves to help bolster the team’s 40 man depth as it prepares for the September 1st call-ups. Let’s take a look at the options available to the M’s once the roster expansion occurs.
Seattle’s bullpen had been relatively injury free until recently, Tony Zych and David Phelps are both on the 10 day DL, and they had been effective at shutting down the opposition in the latter half of games. But they’ve less effective over the last couple of games and that’s why Dipoto has gotten creative. The general manager has brought 23-year old starter Andrew Moore back-up to the majors to fill in as a long reliever and then sent him right back down. Which mean it’s possible that Moore could be used out of the pen again once the roster expansion occurs, especially if Felix Hernandez and James Paxton return from the DL and are healthy.
Some of the other relievers that are listed on the M’s 40-man roster are Max Povse, Thyago Vieira, Ryan Garton, and Zac Curtis. The sheer number of arms that will be available to manager Scott Servais out of the pen is going to give him a greater degree of flexibility when attempting to manage the workloads on the current relief corps.
Of these relievers, Vieira and Posve have seen limited time at the major league level, and they’ve had dramatically different results. Povse has only pitched 3.2 innings with the Mariners, during which he’s posted an awful pitching line of 7.36/6.41/6.79 (ERA, FIP, xFIP) — his numbers haven’t been any better in Tacoma either as he’s posted a line of 7.97/4.04/4.13 in 20.1 innings — but he’s on the 40 man and would help with lefties; during his brief time in the majors, he’s held left-handed hitters to a wOBA of .386 vs. the wOBA of .593 that righties have hit off of him…unfortunately Fangraphs doesn’t have the splits for his time with the Rainiers.
As for Vieria,has only pitched one inning during which he struck out one batter and allowed no hits or base runners. He’s posted far better numbers in triple-A than Povse has as Vieria stat line is 4.61/4.03/5.25 in 13.2 innings in Tacoma while striking out 6.59 batters per nine innings. It’s not the most encouraging stat line but he’s going to provide another option in the pen.
Outside of the two starters that are currently on the 10 day DL, the Mariners have three more starters that have pitched for them this season and have bounced around between Seattle and Tacoma. Moore is one, the other two are Chase De Jong and Sam Gaviglio; none of these pitchers have had the ability to get past the line-up for a third time.
Gavilgio has been the better of the three starters as he’s stat line is 4.62/6.09/4.86 while striking out 5.78 batters per nine. The 27-year old has struggled with walks and it’s been a major problem for him as he’s only stranding 75.4% of runners on base this season. He’s averaging roughly five innings per start which means that he’ll continue to put strain on the bullpen if the decision is made to run him out as a starter once the rosters expand.
De Jong has started for games for Seattle, appeared in seven, and thrown in 28.1 innings. the 23-year old has been awful on the bump for the major league squad with posting a stat line of 6.35/5.89/6.58. Just like most of the starters that the Mariners have brought in, De Jong has struggled to get past the line-up for a third time, which means that he’ll put more pressure on the pen as well.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see one of the three — Moore, De Jong, or Gavilgio — become a long reliever out of the pen to eat up some innings after the starter leaves in the fifth inning. Seattle’s bullpen has been taxed and they need more
Shawn O’Malley and Dan Vogelbach are the only position players listed on the 40-man roster that aren’t already with the big club. Neither of them are super exciting prospects, although O’Malley will forever be remembered for his heroics on Griffey Night, but they’ll provide some bench depth for the club heading down the stretch.
O’Malley is going to be the most versatile of the two as he can play all of the positions between third and first base. He’s yet to make an appearance in Seattle in 2017, but he’s been struggling with some poor luck down in Tacoma; the 29-year old is hitting .232/.280/.319 in 75 plate appearances in triple-A, but he’s struggling with bad luck as his BABIP is a ridiculously low .259. If he can come up and occasionally spell Jean Segura and Taylor Motter then he’ll be a good addition to the M’s roster come September 1st.
Unfortunately for Vogelbach, he’s going to only get used to spell Nelson Cruz as the team’s DH. With the addition of Yonder Alonso, and Danny Valencia’s successful season, there isn’t going to be a bunch of plate appearances available to someone who’s posted a wRC+ of 44 in 20 plate appearances in 2017 and has a career wRC+ of 13 in 13 plate appearances.