The first eight games, the Mariners were able to survive several performances where their relievers couldn’t throw strikes. Morrow, Aardsma, and Corcoran have been used as the primary high leverage relievers, and they’ve combined to issue 13 walks in 12 innings. They’ve gotten outs, but every save has been scary.
Then, there’s Shawn Kelley. Here’s what he did tonight:
21 of his 26 pitches were strikes, and as you can see, two of the five pitches that were called balls were in the strike zone. He ran his fastball up to 95 a couple of times and he worked in six breaking balls to keep hitters off balance. Fastball/slider relievers usually have problems with LH hitters, but Kelley’s slider moves like a splitter – those hard downward break pitches are extremely effective against opposite handed hitters.
He’s a rookie, yes. He’s only thrown three major league innings. I know.
But the next time the Mariners are holding on to a one run lead in the 8th inning, he’s the guy I’d want on the mound.