SHANNON DRAYER

Mariners Notebook: Competition for bullpen spots ready to heat up

Mar 11, 2021, 3:39 PM
Mariners RHP Joey Gerber...
Mariners RHP Joey Gerber is set to pitch Thursday against the Dodgers. (Getty)
(Getty)

Spring Training Golden Rule Number I’m Not Sure What, according to, well, me: Don’t pay too much attention to the relievers until the final 10 days.

Dipoto: What Trammell’s hot start, Kelenic’s injury means for M’s LF job

I’m not going to lie, I’ve needed a reminder of this one a few times already as what looked decent on paper has been a bit scary on the field, particularly in the past three days with Mariners relievers giving up 22 runs and currently ranking second to last in baseball in reliever ERA.

Yikes?

Perhaps not quite yet.

“We still have a competitive situation in the bullpen trying to figure it out,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said Thursday afternoon. “You don’t want to ride the results of spring training too much; you have to trust the results in the process of how they go about it.”

Without a doubt, Arizona is not always a great place to judge pitching. The dry air – and in recent days heavy winds – offer no favors to pitchers getting back up to game speed, especially a group like the Mariners’ relievers who lean more toward the flyout than groundout. A pitcher can make his pitch only to see it carry over the wall when it would be an out nearly anywhere else. It’s why Servais and his coaches are focused on more than just results.

“Are they ahead in the count, are they using the right sequencing, are they executing their pitches?” Servais asked. “That’s kind of what we hone in right now as guys’ arm strength is built up and they are past the nerves. I think once guys start to get to that third, fourth outing, they start to get a better feel for where their stuff is, what their secondary pitches look like.”

That time is coming up quickly. In the next week, the competition for the final spots in the ‘pen should start to heat up. Roenis Elías has been an early standout, and Servais points to work put in by Joey Gerber to throw his slider more and Casey Sadler in live BP and sim games as standing out. Learning the newer pitchers is still a process, as well.

“We still need to get a better look at where Keynan Middleton is,” said Servais of the right-hander previously with the Angels who allowed five runs on four hits Wednesday in an inning against Texas. “I know he was disappointed in his outing yesterday.”

Those who will get a look against the Dodgers on Thursday night include Elías, Gerber, Rafael Montero, Paul Sewald, Brandon Brennan and Vinny Nittoli. The game airs live on 710 ESPN Seattle, with first pitch set for 5:05 p.m.

Lineup!

J.P. Crawford, SS
Dylan Moore, 2B
Ty France, 3B
Kyle Lewis, CF
Luis Torrens, C
Taylor Trammell, LF
Evan White, 1B
José Marmolejos, DH
Jake Fraley, RF

Chris Flexen, SP

Mariners notes

• The Mariners are playing their first night game of the spring as they take on the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch. With the new game time comes a new routine, and to that end Servais said that he plans to use night games as recovery days of sorts with fewer drills beforehand. That doesn’t mean there will not be work, just less intensive work. Servais had a competitive batting practice scheduled for Thursday afternoon with the winning side picking up some sort of prize.

• On his weekly show on 710 ESPN Seattle, Jerry Dipoto gave an update on Jarred Kelenic, who is working his way back from a strained adductor in his left knee. “He’s been working his tail off, which has been consistent with the way he’s always done in the batting cages and on the field,” Dipoto said. “… We did expect that this is going to take a couple of weeks to resolve and it seems like he is on the faster track, so to speak, in getting back to the field, and that’s encouraging.”

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