Brandon Maurer has changed roles in mid season, going from starter to relief pitcher and the change is dramatic.
In 2013 he made 14 starts in his 22 games. He was a disaster. A 5-8 record, 6.30 ERA, giving up 16 home runs in 90 innings. This season he started seven games, his last on May 29th against the Angels. He pitched 4 innings, 6 hits, 4 walks, 5 earned runs. Those numbers were close to his previous start against the Astros, another 4 innings, 6 hits, a walk, 6 runs. He lost both games.
He was sent to Tacoma and pitched out of the bullpen. A demotion? Perhaps in the old days it would be viewed that way, but not in this age. The Mariners were trying to get him going. His pitching was ugly, the Mr. Hyde of the Seattle Mariners staff.
But the change worked for Maurer.
Since his return to the Mariners on June 25th against Boston, he has pitched 14 innings, 6 hits, 17 strikeouts and 2 walks. He has pitched so well, he has been mentioned in trade rumors. It was rumored, though never confirmed by the parties involved, that the Tampa Bay Rays offered Seattle Ben Zobrist for Nick Franklin and Brandon Maurer. Seattle GM, Jackie Z, said no thank you.
Wise rejection as Zobrist brings nothing to Seattle. At the all-star break he was the worst hitter in baseball with runners in scoring position, an average barely over .100 thanks to a 1 for 44 streak at the break. He is a utility player and Seattle already has Willie Bloomquist. Seattle does not need to give up two players for Zobrist. Not when Dr. Jekyll, AKA Brandon Maurer, is proving a valuable asset. Maurer could be traded, but it would be in a package for someone better.
Maurer relishes the role. He does not have to think about executing a game plan, nor holding back his pitches. As a reliever he comes in and throws as hard as he can, his fastball in the high 90’s and a few times topping 100. As a starter he did not throw that hard, saving himself for the marathon of starting, not the sprint of a relief pitcher.
Some players are better suited for one role than another. For Maurer he seems to have found his niche. No more Hyde, only the good Dr. Jekyll.