The Mariners found a diamond in the rough — twice — in Roenis Elías

May 15, 2019, 11:30 PM

Mariners Roenis Elías...

Roenis Elías, who last pitched for Seattle in 2019, will try to make the team in spring training. (Getty)


Roenis Elías has pitched 96 games in the MLB. All but four of them have been in a Seattle Mariners uniform.

Here’s the twist.

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Elías has had two stints with the Mariners, and in between were a full two seasons where he was with the Boston Red Sox after Seattle traded him in a deal that brought Wade Miley to the M’s. As you might have guessed, things never clicked for Elías with the Sox, and he returned to Seattle in a much more minor trade for cash in return after spending most of his time with Boston in the minors or injured.

Now 30 years old, the left-hander from Cuba seems to have settled into a role with the Mariners – well, kind of. It’s that his role is wherever the Mariners need him, and as evidenced by a gutsy performance in Tuesday’s 4-3 win over the Oakland A’s, he’s become very valuable to manager Scott Servais’ team.

Elías was dominant in a seven-out save, striking out five and inducing a game-ending double play, to lock up a two-game sweep over Oakland for the Mariners. That scoreless outing of 2 1/3 innings lowered Elías’ season ERA to 2.78 and WHIP to 1.10, and he now has five saves on the year.

Not bad for a pitcher whose career in the big leagues seemed in jeopardy just two years ago.

Elías was a bit of a revelation early in his first tenure with the Mariners, posting a 3.85 ERA in 29 starts as a rookie in 2014 and finishing with 11 quality starts in 22 games pitched in 2015. Since returning from Boston, however, Elías has instead established himself as a bullpen arm for Seattle.

While Elías started 50 of 55 games played over the first four seasons of his MLB career, he has made 37 relief appearances compared to four starts in his current tenure with the Mariners. He’s done so well as a reliever, especially this year, that he seems to be Seattle’s best choice to close out games going forward, or at least until closer Hunter Strickland returns from the injured list.

During Wednesday’s edition of Bob, Groz and Tom on 710 ESPN Seattle, Bob Stelton, Dave Grosby and Tom Wassell discussed Elías’ value to the team and what his role should be. Here’s a look at that conversation:

Is Roenis Elías part of the Mariners’ future?

Bob Stelton: It’s amazing who he’s been in a Mariners uniform. In Boston he was hurt and just never found his footing there. He comes back here and he’s just remarkably effective – and he costs you nothing.

Tom Wassell: He was nails out there (Tuesday night), and that was an example of a highest-leverage situation.

Bob: He’s got a different level of value to me because he’s so pliable. You could use him as an emergency starter. He can go long relief. He can close.

Dave “The Groz” Grosby: I like the idea of him doing two- or three-inning saves. That solves your closer problem for a little while – and your setup problem.

Tom: How long can his arm last doing that, I wonder. … I agree with you, I don’t think it’s just a three-out closer thing with him. He could do more. … I’d love to keep him here. I love what he brings to the staff, whether it ends up being in the rotation or the bullpen. If you were to trade him, that means you’re punting on 2020. … I’m more attached to Elías than I am (Mariners starting pitcher Mike) Leake.

Bob: Which is funny, because Elías was almost a scrap-heap guy. He was familiar here and they (brought him back).

Groz: He seems to be the most valuable piece in that bullpen right now.

Tom: He was the most valuable player (Tuesday) night, without a doubt.

Listen to podcasts of Bob, Groz and Tom here.

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The Mariners found a diamond in the rough — twice — in Roenis Elías