Many Candidates For Rainiers Relief Crew

We wrap up our Tacoma Rainiers spring training position previews today with a look at the bullpen situation.

As always, there are many candidates to be part of the Rainiers opening day bullpen. We’ll probably have eight relievers coming out of spring training, and below we have 14 candidates – and there may be more in minor league camp.

Let’s start with four pitchers who are in major league camp right now, and are battling for spots in the big league pen.

Chasen Bradford spent 90% of the 2018 season in the Mariners bullpen, and it seems like he’ll make the big league club. However, he does have an option year remaining, so the possibility that he comes to Tacoma does exist.

Gerson Bautista is a flamethrower acquired from the Mets in the Cano deal; he brings the heat in the upper-90s and is trying to improve his command. He could make the big league club, but if not we’ll see him at Cheney.

Nick Rumbelow spent time with both Tacoma and Seattle last season. GM Jerry Dipoto was quite high on Rumbelow when he was acquired last year, and he’s fighting for a big league spot.

Matt Festa had a strong season at Double-A Arkansas last year, and made his major league debut skipping Triple-A. It feels like he could be a back-and-forth Tacoma-to-Seattle I-5 Shuttle passenger this year.

Now, some relievers who are non-roster spring training invitees, and each has Triple-A experience:

Ruben “R.J.” Alaniz pitched in 20 games for the Durham Bulls last year; he’s on the 40-man roster and has already been optioned to Tacoma. This right-hander almost certainly has a spot in the Tacoma ‘pen.

Tyler Danish posted a 3.01 ERA as a multi-inning reliever last year for Triple-A Charlotte, covering 71.2 innings. He’s young for a minor league free agent signing, just 24.

Ryan Garton has pitched for Tacoma in parts of the past two seasons, and when he is healthy he is very effective in the PCL. He posted a 3.16 ERA in 35 appearances for Tacoma last year.

Tayler Scott is a free agent signing who worked in 44 games for Round Rock last year, pitching to a 3.26 ERA.

That’s eight names right there. Let’s add two relievers who split the 2018 season between Double-A Arkansas and Tacoma:

Matt Tenuta is the first and only left-hander on this list, which gives him an advantage. We’ve got to have at least one lefty in the pen, or else manager Daren Brown will be on the phone with the front office every day begging for a lefty. He had a 2.98 ERA in Double-A and a 3.10 figure in limited time with Tacoma.

Darin Gillies pitched in 26 games for the Rainiers as a long reliever last year, but was eventually sent back to Arkansas. It was his first Triple-A opportunity and he may get another this year.

How about some pitchers looking for their first taste of Triple-A ball after pitching well in Double-A last year?

David McKay struck out 71 batters in 50 innings for Arkansas last year, and the Mariners sent him to the Arizona Fall League as a reward. Look for him to make the club.

Matt Walker was drafted in 2015, and the M’s have been moving the 6-foot-6 righty up one level each season. Last year in Double-A he had a 3.63 ERA in 39 games.

Jorgan Cavanerio was signed as a minor league free agent and is in big league camp right now. He hasn’t pitched much in Double-A and might start the season at that level, but the big league spring training invitation means the M’s believe he is somewhat advanced and wanted to take a look at him.

Robin Leyer had a 2.59 ERA in 42 Double-A games in the Cincinnati Reds system last year, and the M’s signed him as a free agent. He is yet another Triple-A Tacoma candidate, and like Cavanerio he is in major league camp right now.

The Mariners will figure out this situation as camp progresses. It is definitely a positive that there are many legitimate Triple-A reliever candidates this year, so the Mariners won’t have to grab pitchers being released by other organizations at the end of March (which is what happened last year).

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One Response to Many Candidates For Rainiers Relief Crew

  1. Bullpen sounds good not sure where the offense and especially any power is going to come from.

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