Mariners option struggling reliever Drew Steckenrider to Triple-A
Drew Steckenrider was a key part of a bullpen that helped the 2021 Mariners win 90 games. Through the first two months of 2022, he’s struggled so much that he now finds himself demoted to Triple-A Tacoma.
Mariners Bullpen: What are the issues, and what are potential solutions?
During their day off Thursday, the Mariners optioned Steckenrider, 31, to the Rainiers. No corresponding move was made, thus Seattle has one open spot on its 26-man MLB roster. Steckenrider is still a member of the Mariners’ 40-man roster, which is full.
After signing as a minor-league free agent ahead of the 2021 season, Steckenrider became a key component of a stellar Mariners bullpen. In 62 appearances (67 2/3 innings), Steckenrider posted a 2.00 ERA while striking out 58 and walking 17. With Casey Sadler and Paul Sewald often working the seventh and eighth innings for the Mariners in 2021, Steckenrider often came in to get the final three outs. He finished 20 games for Seattle, picking up 14 saves.
The 2022 season has not been good for Steckenrider, however, who in 16 appearances this season has recorded just one 1-2-3 inning. Steckenrider owns a 5.60 ERA and a 1.814 WHIP and is allowing over 13 hits per nine innings.
According to Statcast, Steckenrider is in the lowest possible percentile in expected ERA, expected batting average and expected slugging percentage in all of baseball.
Steckenrider’s fastball is being hit at a .333 clip with a .528 slugging percentage this season. In 2021, his fastball yielded a .216 average and .346 slugging percentage. Additionally, Steckenrider’s go-to secondary offering is his changeup, and that pitch has not been very effective this year. Opponents are hitting .391 off it and slugging .652. Opponents hit .149 with a .213 slugging percentage against Steckenrider’s changeup in 2021.
The Mariners (18-27) sit in last place in the American League West. They will begin a three-game series at home against the first-place Houston Astros (29-16) at 6:40 p.m. Friday night, with coverage starting on Seattle Sports Station 710 AM with the pregame show at 5:30.
Dipoto: Mariners’ path to climbing out, when to expect Justin Upton