The end of the all-righthanded bullpen

Mike Snow · July 3, 2009 at 1:09 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

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.


4 Responses to “The end of the all-righthanded bullpen”

  1. Breadbaker on July 3rd, 2009 2:11 pm

    I have probably said this too many times, but I have absolutely adored the idea of almost no mid-inning pitching changes and believe it has helped the bullpen that everyone has had to pitch to–and therefore prepare to pitch to–both right- and left-handed batters. I would hope that with Kelley there, his role becomes “expect to pitch whichever inning has the toughest lefties in it,” rather than “you get the eighth.”

  2. jeffs98119 on July 3rd, 2009 2:16 pm

    I love Baker’s lead on this story: “We told you a couple of days ago that this move was coming.” That guy’s going to tear his labrum patting himself on the back.

    Not really sure why they didn’t just send Corcoran away–he’s been awful and they’re not using him anyway. Seems like keeping Carp at least through the Boston series would have been a good idea.

  3. decatur7 on July 3rd, 2009 2:49 pm

    A couple questions: first, anyone know what Chad Cordero’s health status is? I assume he’s not coming back anytime soon, since I can’t find any news on him.

    Second, would Nick Hill, a lefty in AA who’s been mowing down hitters (33 IP, 38 K, 7 BB, 2 HR), be a Loogy option for the stretch run? His FIP splits are 4.18 vs. lefties (62 BF) and 1.78 for righties (78 BF), but his K rate, walk rate, and HR rate are all higher against lefties (minor league splits, “nicholas hill”

  4. Mike Snow on July 3rd, 2009 3:51 pm

    anyone know what Chad Cordero’s health status is?

    I don’t have any direct knowledge, maybe Jay or Dave knows something specifically. But last I recall, his velocity (such as it is) was slow to come back, and he hasn’t been seen in game action anywhere. I would read that to mean things haven’t changed, and there’s no reason to think of him as a potential part of this team.

    Second, would Nick Hill, a lefty in AA who’s been mowing down hitters (33 IP, 38 K, 7 BB, 2 HR), be a Loogy option for the stretch run?

    If the team is still in contention in September, then they’ll almost certainly decide to ride the arms that have gotten them that far, rather than make much use of call-ups. Teams only make an exception to that for the likes of Francisco Rodriguez, and Hill’s nowhere near that, he’s just a guy with a bit of an interesting story.

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