Don Wakamatsu mentioned the 'wear and tear' on the Seattle bullpen after relievers coughed up a one-run lead in the Mariners 7-4 loss to Texas last night.[caption id="attachment_697" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Mark Lowe"] [/caption]Specifically, that weariness hangs heaviest on closer David Aardsma and setup man Mark Lowe.
Lowe has appeared in 75 games this season, and only one Mariners reliever - Ed Vande Berg (78 in 1982 and 76 in 1985) - ever pitched in more. And Vande Berg was a left-handed specialist who rarely faced more than a batter or two.
Aardsma pitched in his 72nd game Friday. That total if the fifth highest in the American League.
To better put those numbers in perspective, consider this: Aardsma's previous career high for appearances was 47 games, Lowe's 57.Both say they've learned this season the demands of their jobs, that each will be more prepared for work in 2010.
The loss of Sean White put more pressure on Lowe, and the emergence of Shawn Kelley next spring could spread the late-inning appearances around a little more.
As for Aardsma, he'd have had fewer games this season if he'd broken camp as the closer - a job he didn't secure full time until mid-May.
Bottom line: Aardsma and Lowe are pitching not on fumes but the memory of fumes in this final weekend.
It shouldn't detract a bit from two gritty pitchers who shouldered more than their share of the responsibility for winning.