== A distraction from the offense for a moment ==
I am aware that the utter lack of offense for four consecutive games, and the presumed hunt on the trade market for improvements thereto, is worthy of the attention of most folks, and pitching — particularly the possibility of pitching in October — seems rather irrelevant at the moment.
But the Coveted Second Wild Card is hardly out of reach. Pythagorean analysis still has the M’s as the 4th-best team in all of baseball. And Baseball Prospectus “third-order standings” (it’s complicated, of course) still has the M’s as easily a playoff team. It just doesn’t feel that way right now.
Still, the development of Brandon Maurer as a potential October weapon of mass destruction is at least worthy of some thought.
First, let’s go back in time to 2012.
Regular season Sergio Romo:
And postseason Sergio Romo:
And go back in time to 2013.
Regular season Koji Uehara:
And postseason Koji Uehara:
If you figured out our methodology here, those happen to be the last two World Series champions.
And in both cases, they had a go-to reliever who:
- Was unhittable; and
- Didn’t walk anyone; and
- Struck out gazillions; and
- Kept right on doing it until the last out of the season
Now let’s take a sneak peek at what Mr. Maurer has been doing since he stepped into the bullpen:
Amazingly, despite all that dominance, Maurer’s starting gigs were so awful that his overall ERA is still 5.24 with 3.1 BB/9 and just 6.6 K/9. But all of those worms have turned, dramatically.
Of course, that does not mean that the Mariners will win the World Series. But having the one ultra-dominant arm in the bullpen makes it a whale of a lot easier.
Everyone has been pointing to Maurer’s mental change as well: confidence and tempo. If he wants the ball, and really thinks of himself as unhittable, in the late-inning situations, so much the better. The stuff is there. At least once he latched on to “Maurer 2.0” — as we pointed out in April.
And, needless to say, the Seattle bullpen was already one of the best in the majors before Maurer arrived. Protecting leads shouldn’t be a problem.
Getting leads … that’s another matter.