Since joining Mariners, Paul Sewald has taken ‘180-degree turn’

Jun 26, 2022, 11:38 AM
Mariners Paul Sewald...
Mariners reliever Paul Sewald celebrates his save of a 4-3 win over the Angels on Friday. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Mariners’ bullpen has rounded into shape over recent weeks, and much like last season, Paul Sewald has been right in the middle of it.

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The 32-year-old Sewald has been Seattle’s best reliever again in 2022, sporting a 2.70 ERA, 0.75 WHIP and 138 ERA+ in 27 appearances, 22 of which have been scoreless. Those numbers are all better than what he finished with in 2021 (3.06 ERA, 1.021 WHIP, 136 ERA+), which was a surprising breakout season for a veteran right-hander who joined the M’s on a minor league contract and was in Triple-A until mid-May.

Prior to coming to the Mariners, Sewald struggled to find his footing as a member of the New York Mets. On Friday, he joined Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob and talked about the difference between his days with the Mets and how he pitches now for the M’s, specifically when it comes to his fastball that he throws in the mid-90s and a wipeout slider.

“I think a 180-degree turn is probably how I would like to describe it,” he said. “I throw fastballs at the top of the zone now instead of trying to go down and away, down and in, that sort of thing. I stopped looking for drop in my slider and I just try and sweep it as far as I can right to left. So two completely different pitches than what I had in New York, and then the success has been there so obviously the confidence is a lot higher.”

That confidence comes in handy considering how many close games the Mariners have played the last two seasons. With a 10-3 record in 2021, Sewald actually tied for second on the Mariners and 21st in the American League in wins, something only made possible by how many games the Mariners won late. That trend is continuing in 2022, and though the Mariners haven’t had quite the same success in one-run games as in 2021, they do go into Sunday having won three straight games all by two runs or less, the first two of which Sewald earned the save in.

“I think I’ve gotten very comfortable in that position,” he said. “I think all of our bullpen guys have because, you know, we just play so many darn close games… so I think I’ve gotten more than used to it with with being a Mariners reliever that’s for sure.”

Extra help on road trip

The Mariners go into Sunday on a season-high five-game winning streak, and there’s something a little different going on for this trip: M’s family members are along for it. After sweeping the Athletics in Oakland to shake off a 3-8 homestand, Sewald said it helped lighten the mood around the team.

“It couldn’t have come at a better time. I think this past homestand was pretty tough,” he said. “Everyone knows that was a frustrating homestand, and baseball is extremely important, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s not everything and family is really the most important thing. I think everyone got to have a little bit of a lighter side coming on that travel day on Monday down to Oakland, and then, gosh, we played pretty well in Oakland. (We) won those three games and had a very fun flight down – the kids were celebrating with us, it was fun. I think it couldn’t have come at a better time where we really needed a good light trip with the families. I think it’s been great.”

You can listen to the full Wyman and Bob conversation with Sewald in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

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