It’s Opening Day! Spring Training always seems to drag on for a week too long. I guess the promise of real, this-time-it-counts baseball makes everything in March drag on and on. I’m wrapping up my 2014 season preview of the Mariners with a look at the Bullpen. I’ve already covered the infield, the outfield, and the starting rotation. If you haven’t read those yet, take a look to get the full picture of where the Mariners find themselves at the start of this year.
It was a rough year of transition for the bullpen last year. The incumbent closer, Tom Wilhelmsen lost his job after his walk rate spiked to 5 per nine innings and his strikeout rate dropped to just under 7 per nine innings. Overall, the group had the second highest ERA in the majors at 4.58 but their collective FIP was just 3.79. Perhaps it was the relative inexperience of the bullpen that drove their ERA so high when their peripheral stats tell us they should be right around league average. The majority of the ‘pen is returning with a few new faces. Let’s hope that one more year of development from our young pitchers will be supported by these new veterans.