On the heels of Justin Dunn only making it through the second inning yesterday and an unexpected drag on the bullpen, the Mariners have announced they’re calling up right-handed reliever Art Warren and optioning—somewhat surprisingly—a position player to Tacoma.
The surprise dissipates, however, when it is revealed that it’s outfielder Mallex Smith who will be heading to the alternate site. Smith’s speed remains elite—he’s in the 95th percentile per Statcast for sprint speed—but as the old saying goes, you can’t steal first, and Mallex’s allergy to taking walks (4.4%) and high strikeout percentage (27.7%), combined with a bat packing all the power of a 1975 AMC Gremlin (bottom 4% exit velocity in the league, bottom 3% hard hit rate) means his utility to a team that currently ranks 24th in average and OBP and 27th in slugging is limited.
Compounding the issue is Kyle Lewis’s emerging competence in centerfield; once thought to be Mallex’s forte, he has instead accrued -2 OAA (Outs Above Average) so far in the season, while KLew ranks in the 79th percentile for OAA and earns above-average marks for his jumps in the outfield. The emergence of KLew on both sides of the ball has severely eaten into Mallex’s playing time, so he’ll head off to Tacoma to get regular reps and hopefully get back on track, where he’ll have to outplay Braden Bishop and Jake Fraley to earn the right to be summoned back to Seattle (pipe down over there Jarred, not you yet).
Meanwhile, Art Warren, who’s been with the team for the duration of the road trip on the taxi squad, will move over to the active roster and provide some bullpen length. Warren’s task in order to stick on the active roster will be to show he can command his big stuff and provide effective innings. Luckily for Warren, the bar with this particular bullpen is...pretty low. Good luck Warren, and may the fine art puns be plentiful.