SEASON PREVIEW PART 2/4: LOIN GIRDERS, THE MARINER SUPPORT.

He said “don’t you leave him, Dylan Moore.” And I don’t mean to. I don’t mean to.

Hi Sicko Deckie Faction! You made it through to the mid catalog! Maribertastic! Your reward is More Content, this time centered around what at the time of this writing, project to be the periphery of BigLeague Marineria.

FRONTLINE TALENT GRADE: C (See part 1)

SUPPORT TALENT GRADE: B- (This is the strength of the team. Bench and bullpen are above average and I’m looking forward to not having to sit through the Eric Campbell Comedy Hour this year).

PREDICTED 2022 RECORD: 3nd AL West, 86-76, in contention until last week of season.

THE SUPPORTS

Innings Puzzle!

SUPPORTING ARMS

SP5MATT
BRASH
50? SWORD40?? SHIELD45?
MAGIC
SP6GEORGE
KIRBY
40?? SWORD50? SHIELD50? MAGIC
RP1PAUL
SEWALD
70? SWORD50? SHIELD45? MAGIC
RP2DIEGO
CASTILLO
55? SWORD45?? SHIELD50? MAGIC
RP3ANDRÉS
MUÑOZ
70? SWORD35? SHIELD45?? MAGIC
RP4DREW STECKENRIDER50? SWORD50
SHIELD
50?? MAGIC
RP5ERIK
SWANSON
50
SWORD
50
SHIELD
40?? MAGIC
RP6KEN
GILES
60?? SWORD50? SHIELD45? MAGIC
Talented yet unproven college age kids rounding out the rotation, a volatile yet underrated group of firemen look to continue to put the FU in Fun Differential

MATT BRASH (50-40-45)

Going into 2021, Matt Brash had a combined 5.1 innings in organized baseball under his belt. He likely would not have merited mention had this article been written at the beginning of 2021. Brash then went on a Pinedaesque popup arm wonder tear, striking out over 13 per 9 (this is cuckoobananas for a starting pitcher at any level) across two minor league levels in 2021, culminating with being called up to chill in the bullpen and color in various woodland creatures during the last series of the year. Now, with the departure of Yusei Kikuchi, James Paxton, Tyler Anderson, Justin Dunn, and Brandon Williamson, WonderBrash is penciled in as the fifth starter to start the year. Despite dipsydodunkaroo grade breakers and the aforementioned eye-popping strikeout numbers, Brash has concerns about his ability to control his Panda and keep the ball in the yard. All that GrumpStuff aside, This is somebody who had ERA hovering near 1 in 10 AA starts; Brash is the living embodiment of “just look at this friggin gif instead of the projections, you absolute nerd” and could very well be a major league caliber starter from Day 1…

GEORGE KIRBY (40-50-50)

When the team inevitably needs another starter, it’s gonna be “Summer of” George Kirby. Kirby was a gosh darn Skilsaw in 2021 as he sliced through Hii-A and AA and is only back in Arkansas to protect him from the slings and arrows of the cartoonishly hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League as he builds up to full-season readiness. For somebody who throws as hard as he does, Kirby’s strength is not generating strikeouts (which he did at a more than respectable clip in the minors); it’s limiting free passes (only 15 walks allowed) and hard contact (only 1 professional hitter has managed to take the Kirbster deep). Kirby is far from stretched out with only 67.2 Innings under his belt in a season that contained a few concerning periods of absence. I believe that the team is looking to get him ready for a regular turn in the rotation come August. It’s time to stop thinking of him as a part of the future and consider how he will help in 2022.

PAUL SEWALD (70-50-45)

Paul Sewald (AKA: “Whole see World” AKA “The People’s Champ”) went from somewhat unlucky jobber of a relief pitcher for the Mets to the opening day starter for the Tacoma Rainiers, to bit character in Jarred Kelenic’s debut, to Local Cult Hero and certifiable HotKnifeThroughButter in two years. Despite getting hit around a little bit at the end of the year, hinting towards potentially a less charmed 2022, his ability to deceive with his fastball is preternatural. You don’t average over 14 strikeouts per nine as a fluke. Even if his act is less deceptive this year, he is an indispensable part of a contender’s bullpen and a Certified Fun Guy….

DIEGO CASTILLO (55-45-50)

The Mariners Bullpen was so doggone good in 2021 that the fanbase actively disliked a pitcher whose ERA was well under 3 in Diego Castillo. Castillo, acquired in a challenge trade with the Rays, is someone who you can see WHY the Rays decided to part with (Castillo has consistently beaten his peripherals which is something you do till you don’t, then uh-oh!), but on the sunny side, he recorded a high in his strikeout rate and a low in his walk rate, which is usually a harbinger of bright days ahead! Yes, he’s someone who is a cement mixer over the plate away from a 3 alarm fire, but statistically speaking, even if hard contact comes, he’s one of the 30ish best relievers in baseball and a viable (yet volatile) piece of a contending bullpen…

ANDRÉS MUÑOZ (70-35-45)

Chills bayyybbbeeee! The Benítez Class Battleship that is Andrés Muñoz he’s about as subtle as a kick to the gonads. You’re getting heat and a slider, there are no vegetarian options, and the cook is smoking marb reds. While you can get that anywhere in America, Munoz figures to cook up a Guy Fieri Visit Level meal. Still, somehow just 23 years old after 2 years recovering from Tommy John, Munoz was in triple-digit DDD velo-land in his late-season call-up and is set to start his ascent and upwards towards the closer role here in Seattle; again, he is what he is burger and fries, it’s all going to come down to how hot it’s that he how well he can control the world-class heat and how well he can bury the slider. There’s plenty of room for error here but the margin isn’t infinite…

DREW STECKENRIDER (50-50-50)

Drew Steckenrider, who would be an undisputed closer in a lesser bullpen (deep sighs in 90s Mariner), illustrates the unit’s strength. The Steckend (couldn’t resist) non-roster invitee to emerge as a revelation of 2021, TridentSteck became a first-division reliever despite posting a career-low strikeout rate by emerging from the pandy-year of 2020 with improved command of his fastball and a changeup very close to earning the “parachute” moniker. The other side of the coin is its rarified air being an elite reliever with a k-rate where the Steckenroller was at the end of the year, and he did get a little bit lucky. Yes, like many Mariners (and relievers in general), there’s a potential slight backslide on the forecast. Still, you cannot discount what he did, and the Steckenroller is at worst a trusty middle inning bridge…

ERIK SWANSON (50-50-40)

Breaking the cross-sport metaphor glass here, much like an offensive lineman, relief pitchers are often remembered for their biggest meltdown versus their largest success, and the only thing I remember about Eric Swanson as a Mariner was his terrible, very bad, no, good early August stretch. Yet, when evaluating the team at the end of the year, I was shocked to find that despite a 35 inning sample, this was a banner year for DaKillaSwan. Despite some 10- paper-cuts-at-once-level conceded dingers, Swanson actually had his best year limiting hard contact and got encouraging results from leaning more on his splitter and breakers. Looking forward what he can do with a (knock on wood) full season in 2022.

KEN GILES (60-50-45)

Much like Andrés Munoz, Ken Giles graduated from the Central Casting Power Reliever Program and has had stretches of fantastic success in his career. When he’s healthy, “100 Miles” will give you exactly that and a side of deep-fried slider. What has set Giles apart in the past is his ability to know where that 100 is headed and enough knowledge and athletic ability to avoid having it come back at him at 110. In terms of what exactly Ken Giles is in the Year of Our Lorde Two Thousand And Twenty Two is anyone’s guess. It’s a big ol’ box o’ intrigue as his 20-21 were largely wiped out by injury; his 2019 was a career year, his 2018 was a career-worst, and he’s starting the year on the injured list ¯_(ツ)_/¯. If he can return to the mound, he’ll have a big say in how the 6th to 9th innings will unfold this year, for better or worse.

SUPPORT BATS

PA PUZZLE!

3B-“SS” EUGENIO SUÁREZ50? SWORD50
SHIELD
40 MAGIC
OFKYLE
LEWIS
50? SWORD45?? SHIELD50? MAGIC
IF-OFDYLAN
MOORE
40 SWORD55?? SHIELD55 MAGIC
CTOM
MURPHY
40? SWORD60
SHIELD
45 MAGIC
“C”-1BLUIS
TORRENS
45 SWORD50?? SHIELD45 MAGIC
A strength of the team (pending some luck), a deep bench will allow the Mariners to play matchups in a way they haven’t been able to in years

EUGENIO SUÁREZ (50-50-40)

Meet the New Seagz, similar to the Old Seagz. While not exactly a direct Son of Seager, Suarez is also a power>hit good glove adventure on the bases who figures to be on the high-end of second division regular in 2022. His aforementioned defense at third (do not, I repeat, DO NOT try him for an extended period at short ever again) is what is gonna keep the lights on for now, but there are legitimate concerns about his bat. Despite a torrid September, he’s coming off his worst year as a professional, which followed his second-worst year as a professional, and hey look here’s an aging curve for hitters…. ohno! Though he’s generally hit lefties better than righties over his career, Suarez carried a shocking reverse platoon split in 21, casting doubt about his ability to be a part of a classic matchup-based rollout at third. Good Vibes Only and such as he hit far better on days where he wasn’t stretched at short (still not well, but better), and he has stupid sexy power to go along with 80-grade hair…

KYLE LEWIS (50-45-50)

Regarding Kyle Lewis, both can be true; he’s undoubtedly one of the 90 best outfielders on planet earth but also should not be counted on as a regular starter in the major leagues, despite the need to start 90 outfielders, at this time. Everything was coming up Lewis until he again suffered a season cut short by injury, whose timeline has now extended into 2022. The strange part about Lewis is for a 26-year-old with 3 seasons of the big-league ball, there are only 464 plate appearances to go off of, and the error bars are massive regarding his estimated skill level. From what we can see, the talent is there; it’s just wondering what exactly will be seen from Kyle Lewis if he returns to health, as the team looks a lot better with him….

DYLAN MOORE (40-55-55)

Folks, get ur antacids ready because you’re about to ingest a 10 alarm taek…Dylan Moore is the Most Interesting Slightly Above Replacement Level Player in baseball. Somehow, someway, a man with arguably the most suburban name of all Mariner has generated FanCam Level discourse by virtue of his ClutchyDudyButAlsoGify exploits. Is he The world’s most outstanding defensive left fielder? Is he Actually Good at the dish? Is he zoomin’ or tootblanin’ on the bases? Any given day, you’ll be right! With the offseason upgrades to the team, Moore should settle in as a defensive replacement in the outfield, pick up a start or two a month to give some folks days off on the dirt when needed, chipping in as a pinch runner, and most importantly being a Neat Coworkers across a 7 month voyage. Whatever happens, it’s going to be a lot of sound, fury, and fun! Signifying something, I guess…

TOM MURPHY (40-60-45)

Though billed here as a Supporting Toothguy, Tawmy Murahphy will be a part of your summer should you decide to forsake 10 sanity points and take the Mariner Pill this year. Murph, seemingly procured from the “Good Generic Backup Catcher” factory, has more shine on him than your typical 30something 2nd banana behind the plate. Listed him as a 40 damage dealer simply because you don’t go broke betting on something near career averages and the typical age curve; Murphy has strung together his two best seasons in Seattle and was out of nowhere one of the best players in baseball in 2019.

Luis Torrens (45-50-45)

You see ’em drop like flies from the bright sunny skies
They come knocking at your door with this look in their eyes
You’ve got one good trick, and you’re hanging on you’re hanging on…
To it (Ben Folds-Not The Same)

Now that I’ve outed myself as a Weepy Ass Dad, let’s talk Torrens. Though the aggregate is going to come out to average or slightly around it, his breakthrough in his ability to hit left-handed pitching is going to keep the lights on for the 26-year-old. In a pyrrhic victory, his ability as a catcher defender has taken a massive step backward; in contrast, his ability as a hitter (quite unexpectedly) has gotten to roughly around the big-league average. It’s undeniably a crossroads for Torrens as if he can catch, even at a slightly below-average level, and maintain his gains at the plate; he’s a starting big league catcher. If one or both of his bat and glove take a step back, he’s a Long Island Duck or Chunichi Dragon.

PURGATORY
Fringies of various flavors, more than most orgs have under employ

Sergio Romo, Anthony Misiewicz, Justus Sheffield, Yohan Ramirez, and Matt Festa get the first cracks at the backend of the bullpen for the 2022 M’s. DadStoked for Romo to come in and provide cromulent smooth jazz pitching, leadership, and goofs n gaffes. At the same time, I’m fewer baseball ops excited for Romo as he can be viewed as a redundant right-handed reliever and would need to revert to 2015 form to be in the mix for high leverage innings…Misiewicz (nee, Sandwiches) is the top lefty in the pen at the time of this writing, and while he can generate swings and misses and does a good job living around the zone, he’s flammable and struggled down the stretch…I’ll keep it short and sweet with Sheff, he pitched his way out of The Plan in 2021, don’t hold your breath on him pitching his way back into it, but stranger things have happened, and I’ll spill more ink if he can find his change and slider again out of the bullpen…Yohan Ramirez is a legit 60-Grade Swordsman with an electric slider and palatable fastball, and what keeps him from permanent work in King County is he’s a legit 20-Grade shield and 30-grade magician. Alex Reyes proved something like this could work to an extent in 2021, and there’s hope for Our YoYo, but the dustbin of QuadA is littered with “great but not amazing stuff and little to no command” guys…The official taek on Matt Festa is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ at this time.

The Tacomans With Options Left Remaining are the righty Wyatt Mills and the lefty Nick Margevicius. Mills seems stuck in QuadA limbo as his act has played surprisingly well down there (thinking of Wyatt Mills being an Emerald Queen Casino guy opening for Sinbad gives me the giggles) while being socked around in the bigs. In contrast, Margevicius (nee Margy Cabbages) has had some minor wins in the bigs but missed all last year and is recovering from thoracic outlet surgery. Both will either need to show something unforeseen or have folks in front of them take steps back.

Donnie “Baseball” Walton and Brian O’Keefe are the names to know if it hits the fan at shortstop or catcher. Both likely are what they are, statistically interesting QuadAGuys who don’t translate up a level, but their track record of hitting in the minors and ability to man the most challenging positions (Shortstop for Walton, Catcher for O’Keefe) to fill leave room for the hope of competency should worst come to worst. Inshallah, we will never have to find out but both could secure more playing time with shallower orgs.

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