While Ariel Miranda is still very much a candidate for a bullpen role in Seattle, he will spend the bulk of Spring Training being stretched out as a starting pitcher.
Ariel Miranda will remain stretched out as a starter all spring. Could be one of first options if a starter gets injured.— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) February 19, 2017
Mariners can always move him to bullpen late in spring if no other lefty steps forward for that second spot in the bullpen.— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) February 19, 2017
This is hardly a surprise. While General Manager Jerry Dipoto added an abundance of pitching depth in Chris Heston, Rob Whalen, Dillon Overton, and Ryan Weber, amongst others, Miranda is still arguably the most intriguing option in the immediate future if someone from the Mariners rotation were to suffer an injury.
Miranda made 10 starts for the Mariners last season, posting a 5.19 xFIP and 5.31 FIP over 55.0 innings pitched. He managed to outperform his peripherals fairly drastically throughout the season, however, finishing with a 3.44 ERA over the course of those starts.
The one downside of this decision is that any sort of look at how Miranda performs as a reliever–if there is any sort of look at all–will likely be incredibly brief. In his one relief appearance with the Mariners–a one-inning outing during a 15-inning game against the Detroit Tigers in early August–most of his pitches were up a tick or two from where they sat during his starts. With the competition for the two potential left-handed reliever spots in the bullpen consisting of Marc Rzepczynski–who should have a spot locked down–and a lot of question-carrying youngsters, it would’ve been interesting to get a good, long look at how Miranda operates in short stints.
Regardless, it appears Miranda is being set up to take over a Mike Montgomery/Vidal Nuno-esque lefty swingman role in 2017, a role the Mariners will have plenty need for over the course of their long, 162-game season.