Seattle Pitching Assessment
With almost an entirely new staff the Seattle Mariners had low expectations of their bullpen heading into the 2011 season.
While there were a few ripples in the water Seattle ended up with a strong a dynamic team of relievers to draw from.
Strengths of 2011
If the Mariners starters could go deep into the game the M’s bullpen could generally prevent too many surprises. Jamey Wright provided leadership as well as strong numbers that got the attention of other teams at the trade deadline.
Knowing that David Aardsma would be out for at least a portion of the season made a move to sign free agent Chris Ray who had a successful closing role with Baltimore.
However that move proved moot as Brandon League adapted very well to the closing role.
Weaknesses of 2011
This weakness did not become apparent until after the all star break when the M’s starting rotation started to quiver and with a weak offense lead the team into a 17 game losing streak.
Aaron Laffey and Jeff Gray were added early in the year to help bolster this need but gave lackluster performances when the need was greatest.
Aaron Laffey was the lonely lefty in the pen but he didn’t seem to know how to really use that as an advantage as some other lefties in league seem to be.
Of course this is all a matter of slight statistical advantages but the Mariners need to exploit everyn possible advantage they can as they have struggled with providing run support for their pitchers for the enter part of the last decade.
Strengths moving into 2012
Last year the Seattle management was trying to figure it how to fill spots, thing year they have more talent than positions to put them in. Tom Wilhelmson, Steve Delabar, Josh Lueke, Shawn Kelly and Chance Ruffin were all putting up good numbers at the end of the season.
With Charlie Furbush, Dan Cortes, Ceasar Jimenez working on close to full readiness as well the Mariners should have a lot of pitching talent to drawn on all year long.
Weaknesses moving into 2012
The bullpen has to face all sorts of situations that add pressure that young pitchers have trouble dealing adapting to. This is especially important for long relievers of which the M’s don’t seem to have a real solution for.
The Mariners have a lot of talent, but there are few differences in the styles and deliveries in these hurlers. One purpose of bringing in a fresh arm is to throw off batters that come to recognize patterns in a pitchers style, pitch selection and mechanics.
It would be good to see a submariner or knuckle baller that can mess with batters minds.