Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Rob Whalen & Nick Rumbelow called up, Dan Vogelbach retrieves still-packed bag, Mike Morin holds breath

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Guess who’s back, Red Sox. Your worst nightm- okay probably one of your better nightmares, actually.

Following an 8-6 victory that saw the Mariners dig into the depths of their bullpen in an effort to rest the heavily worked Álex Colome and Edwin Díaz, the Mariners leaned on long reliever Roenis Elías and former Angel Mike Morin. With Félix Hernández on the hill today and those depth options tapped out, Seattle dug again into Tacoma for reinforcements, and they’re bringing extra hair out of the back of their hats.

This will be the second coming of RHP Rob Whalen as a Mariner, and his first as a reliever. Following a soul-searching experience last year and this offseason, Whalen has delivered much improved results in AAA. He’s still failed to match the dominance of his 2016 numbers in the Braves organization, but a 3.58 FIP in the PCL is nothing to shake a stick at, particularly when his 4.50 ERA seems tied to an unfortunate 61.5% strand rate. The 24-year-old still has potential as a starter, so he’ll likely only be up briefly until Nick Vincent or Juan Nicasio are able to return, but with Félix on the hill against the terrifying Red Sox lineup, an extra long reliever seems prudent.

The other player making his return is RHP Nick Rumbelow. Rumble has appeared just once in a Mariners uniform – a February 24th outing in Spring Training, after which he was sidelined with an ominous nerve issue in his neck. His role, when healthy, is that of a Chasen Bradford-style 1+ inning reliever, save for that Rumbelow has a more broadly believed-in high-leverage ceiling. He shredded through the minors at every level of the Yankees minors and allowed just one hit against five SOs in his 3.0 rehab innings in Tacoma. Hopefully Rumbelow can be back for the long haul, because adding him to the M’s stout bullpen casts an imposing shadow over opposing teams to deal damage in the first 5-6 innings of the game.

On the other end, once again Dan Vogelbach returns to Tacoma. He performed solidly in his one start, but saw an effort at increased playing time thwarted as Ryon Healy clobbered four HRs in the past three games to reassert himself. See you soon, Vogey. In an upsetting echo of the Erik Goeddel DFA a month ago, the option-less Mike Morin will be exposed to waivers before being able to return to Tacoma. Morin’s schtick is simple, but so is Fernando Rodney’s, and both have had success with their fastball-changeup combo as pros. If the M’s are fortunate, no bullpen-starved team comes-a-snatching.

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