A pithy phrase to describe Nick Margevicius is: “age before beauty”. It doesn’t fit too well in the figurative sense, because I think the phrase is supposed to mean that elders should be prioritized before the young people of the world (though apparently only the beautiful ones). In the literal sense, it describes Nick Margevicius the baseball player very well.
At just 24 years old, Margevicius is the youngest Mariner in competition for a rotation spot aside from Ljay Newsome. That is basically the end of the list of exciting things about Nick Margevicious, baseball player.
The Average-ness of Margevicius
|League Average Starter||22.9||8.3||42.9||35.1||15.5||88.4||4.46|
In basically every respect, Nick Margevicius was the league average starting pitcher. The main difference being a worse ground ball rate and lower HR/FB%. As HR/FB% is a historically volatile statistic, the signs point to Margevicius being slightly below-average last year. So that’s the beauty part. Or, at least, what one convinces themselves to be beauty when one is at their lower moments.
Don’t get me wrong. He’s not that bad. A league average player is still useful, even to an actual contender. Margevicius’ fastball bumped a point in velocity from 2019 to 2020, and his slider and cutter both rated as solid. If he can figure out how to improve his changeup or continue to increase his velocity, he could turn into an interesting player. Those are some pretty big “ifs”.
Margevicius’ saving grace is his youth. He turned 24 halfway through last year, and the Mariners control him for five years, including 2021. He has plenty of time to develop.
What the Mariners don’t have, however, is plenty of time. With ownership reportedly looking to 2021 to determine whether the team is actually able to compete in the future (which totally wasn’t what they were doing in 2019 or 2020, I guess), the front office needs the team to be good immediately. In his press conference yesterday, Jerry Dipoto pointed to Margevicius as one of the players competing for a rotation spot.
Dipoto named the clear top four in the rotation: Marco Gonzales, Yusei Kikuchi, Justus Sheffield, and Chris Flexen. After that, he mentioned Margevicius, Justin Dunn, Logan Gilbert, and Ljay Newsome as competing for the other two rotation spots, while hinting that the team would consider adding another pitcher into the mix.
Gilbert making the Opening Day roster would certainly be a huge surprise. Dunn has had well-publicized struggles with his command. Newsome struggled in his four starts last season, though he should not be judged by his limited time in a bizarre 2020. With that said, it’s clear that each of those pitchers has a much higher upside than Margevicius.
Margevicius making the Opening Day rotation is probably likelier than not at this point, which is fine. You couldn’t blame the M’s for wanting to start Dunn or Newsome in Triple-A. What would be indicative of disaster, though, would be Margevicious making more than, say, 15 starts. It would mean that the team didn’t add any rotation help, that Gilbert didn’t force his way into the rotation, that Dunn’s struggles continued, and that Newsome is still a ways away. That, or a better Mariners starter got hurt.
Margevicius improving would mean the Mariners have a pseudo-Wade LeBlanc: a pitcher who can keep you in the game when the starter implodes, and who can fill in a start here and there. His improving would obviously help the Mariners. But if the Mariners need Nick Margevicius to be good in 2021, then things will have gone terribly wrong.