Time for the next stage in the Mariners projections. You can see the Projected Starting Rotation here. The next step towards Opening Day 2008, will be the Seattle Mariners' bullpen.
The Mariners had one of the best and probably the most underrated bullpens in 2007. A strong bullpen that was overworked last season, and found sucess forty out of the forty-two times that John McLaren gave the ball in the eighth or ninth inning to lights out, All-Star closer JJ Putz. Putz put together a 4-0 record with a 1.38 ERA along with his forty saves. George Sherril ate up 45.2 innings while setting up Putz. Brandon Morrow pitched a solid 63.1 rookie innings in a set-up/middle relief role. Eric O'Flaherty continued his growth with a 7-1 record while pitching over fifty innings as a 22 year old. Sean Green also provided a lot of help in a middle relief role with an ERA under 4, in over 60 innings. Another rookie left by the name of Ryan Rowland-Smith, and for you trivia people the only player to have a hyphinated last name in baseball, put up a solid 38 innings of work. A few others also pitched in.
Time for this season. JJ Putz looks set to close again for the Mariners. While George Sherrill and Brandon Morrow will likely be set-up men, unless one or both of them are traded. O'Flaherty, Green, and Rowland-Smith should be back somewhere in the bullpen. With the rotation battle set to occur in Spring Training, there should be one or two guys that are kept in the bullpen. Guys like Ryan Fierabend, Horocio Ramirez, RA Dickey and Cha Seung Baek could be in the bullpen if left out of the rotation. Here's what to expect for the Mariners' bullpen:
Closer: JJ Putz
Set-Up: George Sherril,Brandon Morrow
Middle Relief: Sean Green,Ryan Rowland-Smith,Eric O'Flaherty
Long Relief: Ryan Fierabend/Horocio Ramirez/RA Dickey/Cha Seung Baek
Doesn't look too bad to me right now. I could see the M's adding a veteran reliever via free agency with a minor league contract and a Spring Training invite. If this bullpen can do what it did last year, and the starting rotation works out along with new pitching coach Mel Stottlmyer, than we could be looking at a great pitching staff.