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40 in 40: Taylor Guilbeau

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Another one of these goatees, eh?

Seattle Mariners v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

First, let’s start with what we for sure know about Taylor Guilbeau. Without a shadow of a doubt, we know Guilbeau is simply a reincarnation of Dan Altavilla with perm. That we know for sure. How Quadzilla learned how to throw southpaw so quickly, we may never know.

But in all seriousness, Guilbeau, to this point, is a pretty nondescript member of the 40-man roster. Seattleites are yet to get to know the Baton Rouge native, but that will undoubtedly change in 2020.

At the time of his promotion last August, Guilbeau was rated the third-best relief pitching prospect in the organization behind Joey Gerber and Wyatt Mills. He certainly doesn’t come without some semblance of a pedigree.

A 10th round pick by the Washington Nationals in 2015, Guilbeau came to Seattle by way of the Roenis Elias trade. He’s a deceptive, hard-throwing lefty with a good sinker-changeup combo.

Rule changes to Major League Baseball have cast some doubt on situational lefties moving forward, beings that relievers will now have to face a minimum of three batters or finish out a half-inning. Gone are the days of a Charlie Furbush coming in and wiping out his token Josh Hamilton figurehead.

Alas, Guilbeau may be prepared for the challenge.

In those said 17 contests, the curly-locked lefty was actually more effective against right-handed hitters than he was lefties. Righties ran a slash of .200/.259/.320 while lefties slashed a more robust .227/.292/.455 in limited action.

Guilbeau works effectively down in the zone with a power sinker, a changeup, and an average slider. The changeup was an especially successful pitch in 2019, showing good command at the bottom of the zone. That feel for his sinker and changeup allowed Guilbeau to induce a ground ball almost 70% of his batted-ball outcomes — a figure that’s almost assuredly unsustainable for an entire season.

The sinker, which averaged almost 95 mph last season, exhibits heavy spin and plus-plus arm-side run. Opposing hitters mustered just a .226 average against the pitch. That being said, when hitters were able to square up the pitch, the .337 xwOBA leads one to believe the command for the pitch still has some growing to do.

Still, it appears the 26-year-old has carved out a niche profile for himself, a profile he’ll need to ride through 2020. Force batters to pound the ball into the ground and don’t walk batters. There’s some Brandon League in there, albeit from an entirely separate side of the rubber.

Guilbeau has a good slider, but didn’t employ it as much as you’d like to see last season. He’s had trouble commanding the pitch at points during his minor league career, bottoming out in 2019 with the Nationals AAA affiliate. He effectively dumped the pitch when he arrived in Seattle last July.

“Gilbo” as he’s affectionally nicknamed (can a homonym by a nickname?!) will get plenty of run this season in Seattle. He’ll likely don a variety of facial hair motifs throughout the year, so keep an eye out for that. If I may make one suggestion, it’s that he dump the Altavilla goatee.

As they say, if your dad and your dentist both have a goatee, one goatee is probably enough for your major league baseball team.

Maybe go for clean-shaven?

Oh my heavens, no. Is that Ian Miller? Has our golden child returned? Let’s try something else.

Goggles, some face-furniture-snot-moppage and a lobster top, complete with a baked-on bib? Sign me up.

@KevinMartinez, let us basque in the bisque. Why turn ahead the clock when you can party with the pincers?

Well then, quite the digression here, I see. These things happen when there’s little to talk about. Please, Taylor, cement your place on the 26-man roster this Spring. Let us know who you are. Give us a narrative.