Bullpen Battle Heats Up

If you’ve ever wondered why Major League Baseball teams bring 60+ players to spring training when only 25 make the club, well the Mariners are explaining it to us.

The M’s have had so many injuries to relief pitchers that there are now openings that could be filled by pitchers who were expected to play in Tacoma this season.

Two expected major league relief pitchers are injured and out for opening day, in Ryan Cook and Evan Scribner. Charlie Furbush is questionable for opening day at this time. Danny Hultzen was a longshot to make the team, but he would’ve had a chance if healthy – he’s not.

Today the club released Justin DeFratus, an offseason acquisition who apparently just didn’t pitch very well in camp.

Here are relievers who are healthy (as far as I know) and on track to make the Mariners:

  1. Steve Cishek
  2. Joaquin Benoit
  3. Vidal Nuno
  4. Joel Peralta
  5. Tony Zych

I suppose we can add Mike Montgomery to that list, as he was just moved to a relief role once the Furbush timetable to return from shoulder issues slowed down.

Even with Montgomery, there are openings. The team is going to carry seven or eight relievers. This means that some spots are going to be filled by pitchers who we expected to see in Tacoma this year.

Guys I had penciled into the Rainiers bullpen who now have a better chance of cracking the Mariners bullpen (in no particular order) include Mayckol Guaipe, Blake Parker, David Rollins, Jonathan Aro, and Casey Coleman. Another is Cody Martin, who was slotted for the Tacoma rotation but could switch roles and crack the big club’s bullpen.

Parker has been the strongest, results-wise, in the exhibition games. He’s pitched four scoreless innings, with six strikeouts and only two hits allowed. If they start using him (or anyone on this list) earlier in games – before the opposing major league hitters have retired to the clubhouse – that means they are getting a more serious look.

The Mariners also may become active once again in acquiring relievers from other teams. This will be interesting to follow over the next two weeks.

Links:

This has nothing to do with baseball, but I really enjoyed John McGrath’s approach in his NCAA Tournament picks column. Enjoy the games tomorrow!

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