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Mariners release RP Justin De Fratus

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The Mariners bullpen is not well, my friends. With injuries already to Evan Scribner and Ryan Cook, "setbacks" from Charlie Furbush and Danny Hultzen, and bicep soreness for Steve Cishek, the pile, once an impressive looming spectacle in who's shade you could relax on a hot day, has been reduced to something barely big enough to slow down a car in a parking lot.

Even still, with velocity concerns and poor performance all spring, Justin De Fratus has been let go:

It's another sad step for De Fratus, who just this week we had speculated may bounce back after being used atrociously in Philadelphia last year. The life of a non-elite relief pitcher is an uncertain and fragile thing. The amount of travel and "home" switching has got to be hard, and we wish him nothing the best going forward. Unless he catches on with the Angels of course. Then, y'know....

This move puts the Mariners' 40 man roster at 38, which yes you are correct that is two fewer than forty. I expect a few things:

  • The team is going to add at minimum some short term bullpen depth from outside the organization in the next 7-10 days. There simply aren't enough arms to be comfortable with how things are shaking out.
  • The odds of Mike Montgomery sticking with this team in 2016 are significantly increased, provided he shows aptitude to the relief switch. Former 1st round picks and top-20 MLB prospects shouldn't be cast aside easily, and I expect Montgomery will get every opportunity to succeed at this point.
  • Donn Roach, Tony Zych, and other fringe arms are good shots to make the Opening Day roster. This isn't breathtaking analysis I know. Next man up, as the folk just north of Safeco are fond of saying.
  • Earlier it seemed likely that whoever lost the James Paxton/Nate Karns rotation battle would start the season in Tacoma. Now there is at least a much better chance that one of them will start the season in the bullpen.
More and more the Mariners bullpen is playing out as the story of the early Spring Training. Outside of 2015 the organization has had good fortune in assembling quality bullpens out of scrap arms and other organization's leftovers. If what looks to be a deep rotation and above average lineup are going to lead this team to a run at a playoff spot the pressure is now on Jerry Dipoto and Scott Servais to manage this early injury storm, cultivate depth, and do some quality dumpster diving.