|M's Bullpen Face Changing |
by Rick Randall of SeattleClubhouse.com, February 8, 2012 at 2:55 am ET
Hong-Chih Kuo Profile
With the offseason moves that the Mariners have made in their bullpen, the 2012 version could have a very different modus operandi than what fans are used to seeing. The 2011 Mariners had the 2nd lowest SO/9 (6.34), strikeout % (16.6%) and swinging strike % (8.5%) in all of baseball.
Left-handers Hong-Chih Kuo and George Sherrill and youngsters Tom Wilhelmsen, Chance Ruffin and Shawn Kelley are all strikeout pitchers, and those arms (and possibly 1 or 2 others) are replacing soft-tossers like Jeff Gray and Jamey Wright that were part of a group that got just 5.86 SO/9 in 265 2/3 bullpen innings last season. Kuo's 3-year rate is 10.8, Kelley's is 8.3 and Sherrill's is 7.9. Wilhelmsen was at 8.3 last season and Ruffin at 9.6 in 14 innings with Seattle.
More strikeouts by the bullpen could help ease the pressure on a defense that has underperformed expectations the past few seasons by limiting the number of balls put in play. Of course, Kuo and others have to prove that they deserve to make the team still, but this shift could be a huge dynamic for the M's in '12.