Is The Seattle Mariners’ Bullpen For Real?

Do you make dinner with the groceries in your refrigerator, or do you order your favorite takeout?

How about if you’ve been suffering through refrigerator odds and ends every day for twenty years?

It sounds crazy, but that’s the life of Seattle Mariners fans. The M’s haven’t been to the playoffs in twenty years, and now it’s a few weeks into the season, and they are stubbornly in first place.

Do you give in to the emotional, siren call of buying in, or do you tell yourself that they will be horrible sooner or later, no matter what. 

Most fans seem to be erring on the side of caution. Keeping things close to the vest. In other words, not giving into the cheap emotional thrill of buying in on the team’s early success.

If that’s your position and your hardened heart has no more to give, then read no further because this column is about a major factor keeping the Mariners in games—and helping them win them. 

The back end of Seattle’s pitching stable, the dudes who hang out past outfield in that area known as the bullpen, is slaying it right now.

Here’s three names you want to be aware of when assessing this team.

The first is Kendall Graveman. Wait, that lesser-known journeyman who’s bounced around a few teams in recent years? That’s the one, and his play has been more than impressive. Thirty years old, Graveman, who played college baseball for Mississippi State University, was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013 before moving on to pitch for the Oakland Athletics. Graveman has pitched 7.2 innings (at the time of writing) so far this season for Seattle. He’s only given up one hit, walked only two stick swingers, and struck out 8 so far. He holds a WHIP of .39 and an AVG of .043, according to the MLB. He’s got an ERA of 0.00. It’s hard to get much better than that. In other words, his stuff is excellent and very clutch.

Rafael Montero is another thirty-year-old relief pitcher for the Mariners. Like Graveman, he’s bounced around a bit, which is typical for baseball players. Montero played previously for the New York Mets and the Texas Rangers, going back as far as 2011. Montero boasts a respectable ERA of 2.89, with three saves, eight strikeouts, a WHIP of .86, and an AVG of .133 over nine innings of play.

And then there’s Will Vest. Twenty-five years old, Vest played college ball at Stephen F. Austin State University and was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 12th round of the 2017 draft, made his MLB debut on opening day this year for the Mariners. Vest has an ERA of .93 after 9.2 innings pitched, with a WHIP of 1.03 and an AVG of .156.

If you are still reading and you were one of those hard-hearted people or had been sitting on the fence, right now, you’re peaking through your fingers. Trying to decide if the water is really warm.

Hint: it is. Life is short. When your baseball team is riding first place for the second week in a row, at any point in the season, it’s time to rejoice. Now even the weather is nice; more things are opening up. The ballpark itself is open again. With fans. And beer. Isn’t that enough?

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About Paul Redman 122 Articles
Paul Redman is a writer and chef in Seattle who grew up in the Midwest. His work has appeared in print and online, including San Francisco magazine, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and Contrary. He eats too many chicken wings and cracks way too many dad jokes and food puns. Follow him on Twitter @predman.