The end of the all-righthanded bullpen
Shawn Kelley has been activated from the disabled list, and Mike Carp is headed back to Tacoma. What’s that got to do with the title, you ask? Well, for one thing, getting Kelley back is a good thing, because not only was he one of the best relievers in the bullpen, but he was perhaps the best option against lefthanded batters in the late innings. Which is important in a bullpen that lacks a lefty specialist, and the solutions contemplated at the beginning of the year (Tyler Johnson, Cesar Jimenez) aren’t going to materialize.
More importantly, though, this is the beginning of a series of moves we’ll see leading up to the All-Star break that will reorganize the pitching staff. First, it takes us back to the 7-man bullpen. That’s not a great thing, but when you only have two starters who will reliably give you innings, it’s understandable. Bedard’s health and stamina when he comes back, Morrow’s ongoing development and lack of command, and the #5 spot will mean extra work for the relievers. Bedard’s return will also push out one of the extra starters, presumably Olson who’s better suited in relief anyway, thus finally giving Wakamatsu a lefthander out of the pen. Roy Corcoran should be the odd man out, since he’s not being used, still isn’t fixed, and duplicates what Sean White gives you anyway. Rowland-Smith is in a holding pattern in Tacoma trying to sort things out while we wait to see if one of the starters gets traded.
For Carp, this is the right thing to do. As much as his batting approach was a breath of fresh air here, he could still use some time to work on things at AAA, and with Branyan and Griffey blocking all lefthanded hitters at 1B and DH, he’s just not going to get playing time. It would be nice to have an extra guy on the bench, but for now the roster mostly needs the interchangeable infielders to plug in until those gaping holes can be addressed for real.