Mariners notebook: Multiple relievers are turning heads

Mar 7, 2020, 11:50 AM | Updated: 11:54 am
Mariners RHP Erik Swanson...
Erik Swanson is one of many Mariners relievers who has impressed recently. (Getty)

It was a good night for the relievers Friday in Glendale. After the game, in his on-field interview, Mariners manager Scott Servais praised the group that pitched against the Dodgers.

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While I believe it is far too early to assign bullpen spots, a lot can happen in the next two weeks but if they relievers continue to progress, slotting in those last few relievers might not be an easy task for good reasons.

“There will be some players who don’t make our team because they have performed well,” said Servais. “Good for us organizationally. We all know how many relievers we have used the last few years. To be able to go down and bring those guys up guys who have real stuff, real strikeout type ability. But it will make the decisions real tough when we get down to the end.”

Most of the arms that have been impressing are home grown. While much of the young player focus has been on the offensive players, the pitchers as a group put up big numbers last year with High-A Modesto ranking 2nd in strikeouts and Double-A Arkansas 13th in all the minor leagues. Overall, the Mariners minor league pitchers led all organizations in K/BB ratio last year.

The Friday night standouts according to Servais:

Erik Swanson: “He took a big step forward,”

Taylor Williams: “I loved the way he threw the ball.”

Anthony Misiewicz: “Had really good stuff last night as he transitions into a bullpen role.”

Joey Gerber: ” He’s been fantastic this spring. The three pitches he threw A.J. Pollock last night was. wow. He just over matched him.”

Relievers who will look to impress today include: Yoshihisa Hirano, Taylor Guilbeau, Dan Altavilla and Brandon Brennan plus minor league call ups.


Shed Long Jr., 2B
Tim Lopes, LF
Kyle Seager, 3B
Tom Murphy, DH
Carlos Gonzalez, RF
Patrick Wisdom, 1B
Cal Raleigh, C
Mallex Smith, CF
Donovan Walton, SS

Zac Grotz, RHP

Grotz, replaces Kendall Graveman who had been scheduled for the start. Graveman’s been dealing with a “flu bug” that’s been making its way around camp. While there is heightened awareness right now for any type of illness, the spring flu bug is nothing new.

“It happens in spring training,” said Servais. “We spend a lot of time together.”

Indeed it does. We see it every spring. The most common tipoff? A player leaving early, heading for the back door with a plastic bag in hand filled with Gatorade or Pedialite. This year, it was the coaches who were hit first with one coach missing five days.

Braden Bishop, according to Servais, is also currently dealing with it. Graveman has looked better the last two days and will throw a side session on Saturday. He is not expected to miss his next start.

Mariners notes

• Arms on the mend: Matt Magill threw well in the B-game Friday, his first “game” action since being sidelined with minor shoulder troubles. His next appearance will most likely be in a Cactus League game.

Sam Tuivailala threw in the same game and appeared to be working on mechanics. He’s scheduled to throw in another B or sim game situation and is starting to approach the mark where it would appear he cannot get enough work before the regular season begins. He could be a candidate to start the season on the IL.

The Mariners are planning on running sim games the next 3 days to get work for the large number of pitchers still in big league camp.

-The Mariners made a roster move before the game against the A’s re-assigning LHP Ian McKinney to minor league camp. The Major League spring roster is now at 58.

• Pitching probables:

Sunday @ Giants: Sheffield vs Samardzija
Monday @ Brewers: (night game) Walker vs Burners

While he is not currently on the board we are told Logan Gilbert should get another appearance or two -perhaps as start- in an “A” game.

• From the “you never know what you are going to get” file…

Earlier this week when he went out to make a pitching change, Servais was pleasantly surprised to hear his catcher, Brian O’Keefe, speaking to his reliever in Spanish. Friday night, there was another surprise when reliever Scott Boches, a minor league call up for the game, came running in from the bullpen. Something didn’t quite look right according to Servais.

“I handed him the ball and he’s got stuff all over his face,” he said. “I’m thinking about it as I walk back to the dugout.”

When Boches returned to the dugout, Servais asked him what was the substance he had above his lip and on the sides of his face.

“Red hot,” Boches answered.

“Red hot?” Servais asked incredulously.

“Red hot,” confirmed Boches who then turned and walked away.

The exchange had minor league teammates within earshot laughing. They had seen this before.

It’s one thing to put Red Hot on your shoulder or arm, and make no mistake, it is still “smoking hot,” in the words of the skipper. But on your face? Mike Blowers finally asked the obvious but needed question: Why?

“It gives him an edge,” answered Servais with a laugh. “We are learning about these players, they are all wired a little differently. He definitely fits in a bullpen, they are a little bit quirky.”

Blowers was able to unearth a little bit of method behind the madness.

“It’s a lot of incentive to get the hitters out quickly I suppose,” he said.


Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Shannon Drayer on Twitter.

More from Shannon’s Get To Know Your Mariners series

Patrick Wisdom has long history with Marco Gonzales
• Logan Gilbert’s swift rise up the ranks
• Dan Altavilla looking for healthy, productive 2020
• Cal Raleigh has been on the baseball path since Day 1
• OF Jake Fraley could be the gem of Zunino trade
• If anyone can relate to top Mariners prospects, it’s Taijuan Walker
• Julio Rodriguez looks the part of future superstar on and off the field

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Mariners notebook: Multiple relievers are turning heads