Normally these About Last Nights are reserved for joyous occasions, to revel in a moment or small storyline within a win. It lets us float the joy just a little further downriver, till the next game starts.
But last night they lost. To the Texas Rangers, who could’ve unified warring nations based on the unequivocal assessment that they are Not Good. They lost to the Rangers and, as much as baseball is a team sport, Marc Rzepcysnki, with an assist by Scott “Stand by Your Man” Servais, wears this loss pretty resoundingly. I’m not one for hot takes, or targeted negativity towards a clearly struggling player (that one time I tweeted a sassy thing about Stefan Romero and, three months later, he liked it really left an impression), but it’s time to DFA Rzep.
His felt like a weird signing from the start, especially given that it was the only multi-year free agent signing Jerry Dipoto had made in his then-early GM tenure. But sure, shell out a bit for a specialist - it wasn’t ideal but it was somewhat defensible, given that the lefties in the 2016 bullpen had a 4.19 FIP against lefties and a 5.72 FIP after Mike Montgomery was traded. Rzepczynski was a LOOGY of the highest order; destroyer of left handed hitters, destroyer of hearts and good feelings when left to face righties.
Last season he earned nearly $11,000 per pitch, with a 4.40 FIP and 4.31 xFIP, good enough to be worth exactly 0 fWAR (and just 0.3 within the pitcher-friendly bWAR). If his season were to end today he would have earned $31,250 for every pitch he’s thrown, with a 7.42 FIP/5.08 xFIP, worth negative wins by both bWAR and fWAR. Yet somehow the concept of paying so much money for so little isn’t the most frustrating thing about the continued employment of Rzepczynski. The real kicker is that, in addition to being abysmal, he’s taking up valuable space in the ‘pen. As John wrote earlier this week, the bullpen has been an integral key to the Mariners’ success thus far, but they need as many competent hands on deck as possible. Marc Rzepczynski is taking up space that this team simply cannot afford to sacrifice.
Last night Servais brought him in to face somewhat-scary lefty Nomar Mazara with one out and two runners on. Mazara singled up the middle, and two runs scored. Servais opted to intentionally walk Jurickson Profar, who has a worse career wRC+ than Gordon Beckham, which was both a frustrating managerial decision and further underscored Scrabble’s uselessness. And after all that, he walked Joey Gallo to load the bases and was promptly pulled. Both Mazara and Profar would go on to score on a Robinson Chirinos double, and the M’s lost 7-6.
This last outing was not the straw that broke the camel’s back - the poor dromedary has been hobbling around for months, really - but it felt like a turning point. The Mariners have already weathered injuries, slumps, and suspensions, and they can’t afford for anything else to go wrong. It’s one thing for a player to be a net-zero - to neither overwhelmingly help or harm the team - but it’s another issue altogether when a player is actively losing games.
I do not wish Rzepczynski ill. I do, however, no longer wish to see him pitch for this team.