Zach Sanders' work can be found on Fangraphs, where he has been a fixture for many years. After many attempts to bribe and cajole Zach on staff I finally made a good deal of promises I have no intention of keeping. I am thrilled to have Zach's writing on Lookout Landing. Welcome.
Over this glorious offseason, our lord and savior Gerald Peter Dipoto has transformed the Mariners bullpen in extreme fashion; Charlie Furbush is the only man standing from last year's Opening Day incarnation. Outside of Joaquin Benoit and Steve Cishek, the vast majority of Dipoto's acquisitions are right-handers who cost pennies, and you don't pay pennies to proven commodities who are expected to step in and dominate from day one.
Dipoto has spoken publicly about his desire to target pitchers who can control the zone and limit walks, and the benefits Safeco Field can provide hurlers who give up fly balls. At a certain point though, it's important to have different options available to the manager, should he need a double-play ball or can risk a walk in return for a strikeout. On some level, despite having a particular "type", Dipoto has added a mildly diverse group of right-handers to compete for a couple spots this spring.
Strikeouts, Low Walks, but Homer Prone
Evan Scribner and Blake Parker can both strike batters out without giving up many free passes, but are susceptible to the long fly. Homer prone pitchers do tend to come at a bargain, so it's no surprise they will comprise a part of the team's bullpen portfolio, given the limited resources Dipoto has been able to allocate to the ‘pen. Cody Martin will also keep the ball in the air, but doesn't have the same swing-and-miss stuff as his compadres, nor the same ability to keep runners from leisurely trotting over to first.
Ground Balls, and not much else
Our old friend Anthony Bass, acquired in the Tom Wilhelmsen trade, was the most notable pitcher who can get a grounder or two, and even he's only had a GB% above 50% once in his five year career. Bass was released earlier this morning, so it's pretty clear that Dipoto did not value his skill set too highly. Casey Coleman will technically fit into this category, but he quite literally can't do much else, and making the team would mean the end is nigh.
The Young-ish Enigmas
What do we know about Jonathan Aro? Not much yet. Aro, acquired in the Wade Miley deal, has put up solid numbers across his minor league career, but got shellacked in his brief major league debut last year. Studying a few scouting reports, it sounds as if Aro will have to rely on control to some degree -- his fastball and changeup are both average, and his slider isn't much above.
When it comes to A.J. Schugel...well let's just hope it doesn't come to having to see him out on the field in any critical situations. As a starter, the now 26-year-old has given up 113 earned in 127-plus Triple-A innings, and before he was called up by the Diamondbacks last year, hadn't been a reliever since 2011. While reports have indicated that he could have trouble with the long ball, he relied on his sinker during his nine MLB innings, so perhaps Dipoto has him in mind for the double-play ball role.
That Other Guy
Justin De Fratus isn't a true fit for any of the above categories; over his 191 MLB appearances, his strikeout rate is average, his walk rate mediocre, and his ground ball rate pretty standard. His best season would fit into the Parker/Scribner camp, but that's just one out of three full big league seasons of work.
In all likelihood, there'll be two spots up for grabs by these right-handers this spring, but you could make the case for three if you're not a fan of locking in Tony Zych. As of now, Scribner and De Fratus are the likely frontrunners. If Scott Servais wants two different types of options -- as I believe he should -- the team will have to look outside of these offseason acquisitions, though an obvious internal alternative does not exist. Perhaps another acquisition is on the horizon, but I wouldn't bet on it.