The Mariners bullpen has been one of the pleasant surprises of the season's first month. With an almost entirely new set of faces (and arms, obviously, you pedantic ass) through eighteen games Mariner relievers have the 5th best ERA (2.63), 11th best FIP (3.39), and 6th best xFIP (3.44). A few ill-timed home runs aside the team's bullpen has as a whole done an excellent job.
Today that bullpen took a blow, and it's due to injury:
Joaquin Benoit placed on 15-day DL with right shoulder inflammation. Mayckol Guiape recalled from Tacoma to take his place.— Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) April 25, 2016
I won't sit here and try to spin this as anything other than a negative. Injuries suck, for the team and the player alike. Joaquin Benoit was acquired to be the team's eighth inning, high leverage bridge to Steve Cishek. Whether we think they should exist or not there is no denying that bullpen roles exist, and any injury/change in roles requires an adjustment.
My hope, although not my expectation, would be to see Tony Zych and/or Mike Montgomery to start receiving the work in close/late/non-save situations. Steve Cishek has been largely fantastic, however it's still Zych and Montgomery who have the stuff, if not the proven pedigree, to provide the Mariners with that ability to shorten games and reave souls.
What I fear is that this will lead to a switch to Joel Peralta as the team's 8th inning reliever. I like Joel Peralta. He's enjoyed a fine major league career. He is apparently beloved in the clubhouse, which is not something I dismiss. He is bilingual. Many believe he is destined to a life of effective coaching after his playing days are over. But these positives aside his stuff AND his results have not warranted such a key role in the bullpen. I'll be rooting for him to succeed and prove me to be wrong of course, but before the Mariners get the best version of their bullpen I fear we may have to suffer for a few weeks.
Mayckol Guaipe was not, erm, good in 2015, however his stuff flashed well in the Cactus League and he had been enjoying a fine start to the season in Tacoma. Of particular interest to me is his breaking stuff, which showed an increase in velocity and benditude (?) to my, admittedly, layman's eye during Spring Training.
It's the first DL stint for a Mariner in 2016, and it won't be the last. Dipoto and Servais' ability to cultivate and use depth is seeing its first in season challenge. We'll see how it goes starting tonight.