Marc Rzepczynski is a lefty specialist who sometimes also pitches to right-handed batters. I know, I know. Stay with me here. He is also...not as great as he once was at the one thing he is paid handsomely to do. Yeah, I know. I’m mad, too.
Grant Bronsdon wrote the 40 in 40 for Rzepczynski (it’s that second ‘z’ that will fuck you up every time) last year and he pointed out a few things I’d like to comment on and update. Grant noted that, even last year, it wasn’t unheard of for a reliever to paid $5.5 million a year to do a specialist job. It’s becoming even more common now after the hardcore bullpenning we saw in the 2017 postseason. But, as Grant pointed out, paying a journeyman like Rzepczynski that kind of money while his career BB/9 rate was already at 4 was, and still is, a bit suspect. Hey, guess what? His BB/9 rate got worse in 2017! I’m just so shocked that something that was already bad got worse in 2017. Weird! Anyways, his career BB/9 rate sits at 4.14 now.
Was Rzepczynski (“Zep” to friends, “Scrabble” to strangers) deployed by Manager Scott Servais in an effective way in 2017? Not really. Did he face too many right handed batters? Yes.
83 lefties versus 54 righties. That’s not a great ratio for his skill set. Facing more than zero right handers is not optimal for Rzepczynski, but we all know that’s nearly impossible to do in reality. Particularly a reality such as the 2017 Mariners where injuries ran rampant in all areas of the team, bullpen included. So, Rzepczynski had to be stretched a bit out of his optimal talent zone because of need, which is a shame. I hope against hope that the the team has both the smarts and flexibility to deploy him more correctly in 2018.
I don’t consider myself an expert evaluator of stats or baseball performance, but I feel the need to grade Rzepczynski’s 2017 with the Seattle Mariners.
I turned to the LL staff to help me grade him out. Their responses ranged from D+ to C-, which I am inclined to agree with. However, I will cut him some slack due the aforementioned circumstances of injuries and hand him the passing grade of...
There was a particular instance in 2017 where our pal Marc was deployed correctly, but it was more because of dumb luck and circumstance than by design. I don’t think this quite sums up the Marc Rzepczynski experience as a Mariner, but it’s the one appearance that stuck in my mind due to its absurdity.
It was the 9th inning of the getaway day game on August 16 against the Baltimore Orioles. Rzepczynski was called in to try and hose down the dumpster fire in progress as ignited by Edwin Diaz’s two consecutive hit batters. Diaz clearly didn’t have it on this day, but to his credit, he did struggle bus his way to two outs (shoutout to Leonys Martin for a great catch in right field) and then exited to a fair amount of booing after hitting Mark Trumbo with the bases loaded and forcing in another run. The previously held three run lead was now cut down to one run. However, this shit sandwich of a half inning gave Scott Servais the perfect opportunity to let his expensive left-handed specialist come in to take a huge bite against—you guessed it—a lefty. Unfortunately, this lefty was Chris Davis, who despite his declining status as a slugger, actually hit left-handed pitching fairly well last season.
As ol’ Crush Davis smugly strolled to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs, I was filled with dread and was bracing myself for another inevitable meltdown loss. I was listening to the game while walking the dog around the park near my home after a garbage day at work. It was a gorgeous August day. The kind of day that honestly makes a Washingtonian want to cry when confronted with the memory of it in mid-January. Yet there I was, on this perfect sunny afternoon, mad as hell and cursing the name of every Mariners pitcher I could think of. I was stomping through the park, shaking my head while my dog happily pissed on every blade of grass he could possibly hit, and then, this happened.
Game over. Never a doubt, right? First and only save of the season for our pal, Marc.
Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, but winning in baseball often requires both in varying quantities.