Yoervis Medina is quickly becoming the budding star and prospect in the Seattle Mariners‘ bullpen. Signed in 2005 as an amateur free agent when he was just 16 years old, Medina spent 2006-2009 on the VSL (Venezuelan Summer League) Seattle Mariners before moving to the United States in 2010 to play in Seattle’s farm system.
Playing the next three years for the likes of the Everett AquaSox, Clinton LumberKings, and Tacoma Rainiers, Medina quickly ascended the Mariners’ prospect list and eventually made the jump to the big league this season.
Making his debut on April 16 against Detroit in an outing that saw him come in for 1 1/3 innings while surrendering no runs, he has been absolutely stellar since getting his first shot. Currently boasting a 2-2 record in 25 appearances with a 2.70 ERA, Medina looks like the closer of the future in Seattle, especially with the struggles of Tom Wilhelmsen and the rest of the crew.
That said, let’s run through the state of Seattle’s bullpen and how Medina figures into the future.
State of the Pen
The Mariners’ bullpen, more than their offense, may be their biggest weakness this year. I know that some of you make think that is absolutely crazy, but with the way some guys have been pitching in relief this year, I believe Seattle’s relievers have cost them more than a handful of games in 2013.
Obviously the guy who stands out in the bullpen right now is Wilhelmsen, who has struggled as a closer this year after becoming one of the more dominant pitchers last year. Though he has recorded just two losses on the year, he’s converted just 16 of his 21 save opportunities and has a 4.22 ERA. But while his ERA is much higher than anybody would want it to be, it’s his lack of control that has been a problem. He’s surrendered 17 walks already and has had trouble finding the zone in 2013, allowing hitters to get into a favorable count and really tee-off on him.
Aside from Wilhelmsen, Charlie Furbush and Carter Capps have struggled to get things on the right track. Though Furbush has a 3.81 ERA on the year, he is 1-3 on the season in 33 appearances, a record you don’t exactly want one of your relievers to be boasting. Like Wilhelmsen, he’s had trouble finding the zone in 2013, walking 16 batters this season.
Capps, meanwhile, is the least consistent of all of Seattle’s relievers, at times looking brilliant while, at others, looking horrendous. He’s still young and has plenty of good seasons ahead of him, but 2013 may not be his breakout season just yet.
However, while Furbush, CApps, and Wilhelmsen have had their struggles this year, Oliver Perez, Medina, and Stephen Pryor have been outstanding. Though Pryor has spent a ton of time on the DL in 2013 and has yet to get back to full health, he managed to pitch 7 1/3 scoreless innings in seven appearances. Perez, meanwhile, has resurrected his career in Seattle and has been dominant for the Mariners, appearing in 29 games while compiling a 1-1 record with a 1.05 ERA. Not really overpowering any opposing hitters, Perez gets the job done with his great accuracy and tendency to allow his fielders to do the work behind him.
And then there’s Medina, the young stud who is currently tearing up opposing lineups. Though he has struggled at times, his recent, impressive streak of play has been absolutely remarkable, especially considering the types of hitters and opponents he has been facing.
Take last night for example, a game where Seattle managed to come back in it while handing Medina his second win of the year. Coming into the game after Seattle fell behind 5-2, Medina managed to finish the seventh before pitching a brilliant eighth and ninth innings while seeing his offense rally and give him the victory.
While this was just one game, the way he stepped into the game and established quick dominance flashed signs of his brilliance and huge potential.
So while Seattle’s bullpen has been tough to watch at times during the 2013 season, Medina’s upside and Perez’s dominance are good signs that the relievers will stop their struggling once everybody figures out a solid role to move into. We’ll give it until the all-star break to really shake out, but after that, I expect to see a much better bullpen and pitching staff.