2013 Seattle Mariners in Review: The Relievers

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Oliver Perez – 53 IP, 3.74 ERA, 3.26 FIP, 3.36 xFIP, 12.57 K/9, 4.42 BB/9, 0.8 WAR

Despite several attempted implosions, Perez managed to turn in a second consecutive impressive season in relief. He walked an uncomfortable number of batters, but man, who even cares with that strikeout rate? Perez won’t be as cheap as he was last time around, but he’s really turned himself into a powerful left-handed option for the late innings. Given his history of struggles he probably isn’t going to contain the free passes any time soon, or ever, but, I mean, come on, look at those strikeouts. So many strikeouts. Strikeouts are really good. Bring him back!

Danny Farquhar – 55.2 IP, 4.20 ERA, 1.86 FIP, 2.40 xFIP, 12.77 K/9, 3.56 BB/9, 1.9 WAR

The most valuable A.L. rookie pitcher by terms of purely WAR, Lord Farquhar came out of nowhere to take the league by storm this year. He posted unbelievable strikeout numbers on his way to becoming the Mariners closer, a position that is safely his going into next season. This Farquhar is not the same as the guy who the Yankees sent over in the Ichiro trade, because that guy was the second-best piece of a package for an underperforming old dude in a contract year. This is the Farquhar who reworked his approach to pitching and came away with a way faster fastball and way breakingier breaking stuff. Never mind ths hilarious 4.20 ERA, the product of a predictably nutso BABIP. Here’s a list of relievers who posted a lower FIP than Farquhar this season: Mark Melancon, Koji Uehara, Greg Holland. That’s it. How about starters? Nobody. Matt Harvey comes the closest, but he’s not that close. Farquhar just wrapped up an absolutely bonkers rookie year, and next time one of your friends goes “b-b-b-b-b-but l-l-l-look at his ERA” you just yell “ERA SCHMEE R A” and give them the stink eye. Farquhar rules.

Tom Wilhelmsen – 59 IP, 4.12 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 4.57 xFIP, 6.86 K/9, 5.03 BB/9, 0.3 WAR

Yikes. Coming off a stellar season, The Bartender fell flat on his face, insert terrible beer joke here. Five walks per nine innings is absolutely Marmolian, and that’s what the M’s got from ol’ Tommy in 2013. In his defense, FIP, but in not-his-defense, holy crap did he ever look awful for extended stretches of the year. Wilhelmsen’s a guy who has had legitimate struggles with his confidence in the past, and though sabermetrics can’t quantify those we’d be foolish to ignore them. Some team might take a flier and trade something for Wilhelmsen’s FIP this winter, but more than likely he’ll be back with the M’s come spring. Here’s to hoping that he’s nice and focused, because an effective Bartender would go a long ways towards making the Mariners bullpen semi-respectable.

Carter Capps – 59 IP, 5.49 ERA, 4.73 FIP, 3.56 xFIP, 10.07 K/9, 3.51 BB/9, -0.3 WAR

We talked a little bit about DIPS theory earlier with Bobby LaFramboise, and now here’s a guy who couldn’t overcome his strong peripherals on the way to an all-around stinker of a season. Capps was recently a top prospect, a closer of the future, and last year the organization made it clear that they liked his upside more than that of Stephen Pryor. This year he posted one of the game’s very worst FIPs. What happened? BABIP, of course, and homers. So many homers. This wasn’t all random luck, as Capps simply gave up tons of hard contact. He struggled all year, but there are reasons to think he can thrive again if he gets the dingers under control. His Ks and walks are fine, so really, what could go wrong? *ignores the recent past and continues along, whistling innocently*

Charlie Furbush – 65 IP, 3.74 ERA, 3.06 FIP, 3.37 xFIP, 11.08 K/9, 4.02 BB/9, 1.1 WAR

One thing I should have mentioned about the Mariners pen is that despite the overall crappiness, they had a combined 9.53 K/9. That’s really good! Second-best in baseball to the Royals, in fact. Of course, strikeouts aren’t the only way to achieve success, but they’re probably the best way, so it’s good that the Mariners have a collection of power arms. Charlie Furbush, the lone prize from the Douglas Fisticuffs swap with Detroit, is another lefty relief guy on the Mariners who strikes out absolutely everyone. He’s awesome, even if he was a little more awesome last year. Unlike Oliver Perez, Furbush is under team control for a few more years and will make either a) a great setup man or b) a nice piece of trade bait. Or both, presumably. Also, Fur-Bush. Haha that will always be funny. Never change, Charlie, never change.

Yoervis Medina – 68 IP, 2.91 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 3.85 xFIP, 9.40 K/9, 5.29 BB/9, 0.4 WAR

So Yoervis Medina led the Mariners bullpen in innings pitched this season. Would you like to know how many people on earth predicted that at the beginning of the season? Zero. Not even Yoervis Medina’s mom, or the president of his fan club. Medina didn’t lead the team in appearances, because Furbush did, but he did somehow throw the most frames, somewhat justifying the team’s insistence to keep him on the 40-man year after year. Was he good? Eh, kinda. It’s hard to overlook the strikeouts, as usual, even if his tally was below average in this particular pen. He walked more guys per nine than Tom Wilhelmsen, however, which really torpedoed his value. Oh yeah, and he was the only bullpen regular to post an ERA under three and a half, which is just so sad and crappy. Medina’s season wasn’t exciting, but it was interesting in that it happened at all. Is he replaceable? You bet. Will he be replaced? Don’t count on it. Actively expect it not to happen. He’s okay.

Tomorrow, the rotation!

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