It was probably a bad omen when Steve Pryor, a right handed set-up man, and possible closer of the future, was injured and lost for the season. He tore his right latissimus dorsi muscle behind his right shoulder. Before he got hurt he pitched seven innings, seven strikeouts, 1 walk, 3 hits,, 0.00 ERA.
The adage says every picture tells a story, well so do statistics, and the numbers from the Mariner bullpen paint a hideous picture. If it were a movie it would be Freddie Krueger in “Nightmare on Royal Brougham Way” with no one starring.
I begin at the end with the closer. Tom ‘the Bartender’ Wilhelmsen was sailing along closing games, and then he lost it. What, besides his confidence perhaps, was lost is a mystery for pitching coach Carl Willis to solve. But despite his 4.00 ERA he saved 24 of 29 games. He has five blown saves coupled with three losses is eight bad games, okay real bad. But consider Danny Farquhar who took over the closer spot. He has saved 14 0f 18, and he too has three losses, so he has seven bad outings, only one less than Wilhelmsen, and pitching in far fewer games. He does have a 4.62 ERA, but he has lowered it substantially for it was north of 7.00.
In short the job is open next season. Perhaps even a free agent closer will be sought.
But to get to the closer you have to have setup men and middle relief and lefties, and all that jazz. The record of the bullpen is 15-30. As a team the Mariners are currently 19 games below .500 and the bullpen has cost, in many respects, 15 of the 19 losses. Of course the teams lack of run production is also a major factor.
Pitching and defense will win you a lot of games, but it will also cause you to lose a lot of games and that is the difference this year. Medina and Furbush have been reliable; Medina 64 innings, 46 hits, 67 strikeouts, 2.95 ERA and Furbush 61 innings, 40 hits, 77 strikeouts, 3.39 ERA. Oliver Perez has been okay, only 48 hits in 50 innings. with 69 strikeouts, but a 3.55 era. Still, we will take that.
After that it is an arson squad. Collectively the rest of the bullpen has pitched 180 innings, allowing 236 hits, with the lowest era of the bunch 4.65. They need to blow up the pen, bring in some free agent veterans to mix with some of the young arms. The pen needs retooling, and that’s no bull.