After months retooling his swing, fraught with occasionally public frustration, Jarred Kelenic is back in the big leagues. The 23-year-old (in his age-22 season) has been recalled by the Seattle Mariners as part of a four player move for the final 15 games of the season. The club announced Wednesday afternoon that they have recalled OF Jarred Kelenic and C/INF Luis Torrens and optioned OF Taylor Trammell. Additionally, they have designated for assignment 1B/3B/cOF Jake Lamb.
The return of Kelenic comes at an opportune time for Seattle, as the upcoming schedule is both fairly weak and also well aligned in terms of handedness for Kelenic. Five of the next six projected starting pitchers Seattle seems likely to face are right-handed, and they’ll probably face southpaw starters in only 4-5 of the remaining 15 in total. While Trammell is a speedier runner and likely a superior defender, Kelenic’s offensive upside is appealing, particularly in a stretch where Seattle’s bats have looked inconsistent in the extreme. He’s also been on absolute fire lately as well.
Looking at Kelenic's Statcast data this month:— Sam Dykstra (@SamDykstraMiLB) September 21, 2022
24 of his 52 batted balls (46.2%) exceeded 95 mph.
Only Julio Rodríguez (50.4) has a higher hard-hit rate among Mariners season qualifiers.
Max exit velo: 113.8 mph
Only Cal Raleigh (113.9) has hit a ball harder for M's in Sept.
Kelenic has handled Triple-A pitching well before, and it’s hard to rightly tell what’s real or not in the Pacific Coast League, but Kelenic has been far far better against southpaws in Tacoma this year, and will likely not be asked to face them often to boot. He’s struck out at a below-average (20.8%) rate in the minors, including a tidy 14.7% K-rate in September, after theoretical frustration may have boiled over at being passed on for an initial September call-up. Perhaps this is a reward for powering through and continuing to perform despite that initial frustration, or perhaps it is a move of mild desperation from Seattle. A hot final two weeks could fuel both the potential for planning around Kelenic once more and trade appetites this winter. We’ll find out soon if the white horse he’s riding in on is named Shadowfax or Death.
Joining Kelenic is Torrens, whose 2022 has followed a similarly disappointing path. One of many players whose opposite field power was evaporated by the usually-deadened baseball, Torrens was sent back to Tacoma to rediscover his stroke, clearing waivers in the process. While down there, he received work at a few infield positions, with the former shortstop now boasting four starts at second base to his name in addition to his prior work at first base and third. Curt Casali is reportedly expected to take paternity leave imminently, but with Jake Lamb’s struggles and the return of Kelenic, a righty bat that theoretically can threaten lefty arms has more appeal. In all likelihood, Torrens will be used sparingly, as the versatile backstop has not quite lit things up in Tacoma to the point of earning trust once more, but Seattle’s hopeful playoff roster is liable to include three catchers, so Torrens was bound to return sooner or later.
For Trammell, it’s a frustrating return to Tacoma where he’s dominated all year. For Lamb, it’s a disappointing end to what was a lovely homecoming story. The Seattle native has gotten limited play in Seattle but has struggled in those opportunities. Still, his lone home run had an outsized impact, knocking Cleveland Guardians starter Zach Plesac out with a broken hand by proxy. Trammell could quite likely be back on a playoff roster. Lamb hopefully will find another home in the bigs.