When the Mariners bullpen was working out some kinks early in the season, veteran lefty specialist Marc Rzepczynski provided stability by making 16 straight scoreless appearances to start the campaign. A few months later, however, Rzepczynski is struggling to provide that same consistency.
Rzepczysnki faced one batter and didn’t record an out in Friday’s 7-2 win over the A’s, marking the third time in his last seven outings that has occurred. In 24 games leading up to mid-June, he had zero such outings.
Mariners manager Scott Servais said he still has confidence in the 31-year-old southpaw, and he believes not enough game action may be the reason for a lack of sharpness.
“That was probably more of a situation where he didn’t pitch enough,” Servais said before Saturday’s game against Oakland. “He was out there real consistently and then we ran into a couple teams that really didn’t have any left-handed hitters. … There wasn’t a whole lot of opportunity to get him in, but we need to. Need to find the pocket or the hitter here or there.”
Rzepczynski appeared on the mound in games just six times in all of June, though he is already up to four outings in July. That’s a pretty big drop-off from April and May when he pitched in 21 games combined. The results were there in those first two months, too. He allowed no runs on just one hit and two walks in 6 2/3 innings in April, followed by two runs on three hits and four walks in six innings in May. He also had 12 strikeouts combined in those months, but has punched out just two batters in his 10 appearances since June 3.
Since June 3, opponents have scored six runs (four earned) on nine hits and five walks in the 3 2/3 innings Rzepczynski has pitched.
“We just need to pitch him a little bit more,” Servais said.
• Speaking of Seattle’s bullpen, Nick Vincent has been about as good as it gets at Safeco Field this season. Vincent hasn’t allowed a run in 19 appearances (18 innings) at home, and the streak of 19 straight home scoreless outings is fifth longest by a reliever in Mariners history.
• Entering Saturday, Jean Segura has played in just 60 games due to a pair of stints on the disabled list, but his 87 hits are the most through that many games by a Mariners player not named Ichiro Suzuki. Ichiro had 89 or more hits through 60 games in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2009.
• Kyle Seager has returned to fifth in the Mariners’ batting order for Saturday’s game. You can see the full lineups in this post.