In Want of a LOOGY?

It's early, but it's an off day and there's little to talk about Mariner-related so here's this. The Mariners are carrying seven relievers and all of them throw with their right-hand. Well, I guess they can throw with either hand, but you get my drift. Some people have expressed thoughts that the bullpen should probably contain a southpaw at some point. Instead of just blindly advancing talking points, why not we look at the data to date and see how they have done as a group?

Collectively, our relievers have thrown 238 pitches to 59 left-handed or switch-hitting batters. 105 (44%) have been called a ball, which is bad. Just 11 (5%) have generated a swing and a miss, also bad. They've issued 11 walks to just eight strikeouts. They've induced only 10 ground balls against 13 fly balls and a whopping 15 line drives.

Compare that to when facing right-handed batters where the pen has thrown 265 pitches to 72 batters. There, only 36% of pitches thrown have ended up being called as a ball and their swinging strike rate is more than double what it is against left-handers at over 12%. As far as batted balls go, 19 ground balls and six pop ups to 15 fly balls and 13 line drives allowed is by no means pretty, but is a damn sight better. They've also struck out 14 against just four net walks.

It's far too early to be making any kind of rash judgments. Not only are the sample sizes way small with just 59 batters faced but, we're also really skewed by having played one team 70% of the time and one other team the remaining 30%. Brandon League and Kanekoa Texeira have thus far been the worst of the relievers against opposite-handed batters and there's reason to believe that both will eventually be assets against those hitters based on their pitch types. Still, it's worth watching as the season progresses. If these trends continue, then the Mariners will need a good lefty neutralizing option out of the bullpen, but the emphasis should be placed more highly on good rather than on lefty.

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