Mariners Insider Blog

Competition heats up for duty as the Mariners’ second bullpen lefty

Ariel Miranda remains a leading candidate for duty as the second lefty in the Mariners’ bullpen.
Ariel Miranda remains a leading candidate for duty as the second lefty in the Mariners’ bullpen. AP

The first priority for the Mariners in determining who fills the role as the bullpen’s second lefty is, really, the only priority:

"Who is going to help us get off to a good start?" manager Scott Servais said. "Who is going to help us win games in Houston and when we go to Anaheim right out of the chute?"

For example: Ariel Miranda might be a better long-term fit in the rotation, but if he’s the best option to pair with match-up lefty Marc Rzepczynski, then Miranda will open the season in the big-league bullpen.

The Mariners do have alternatives, though, that could push Miranda into the rotation at Triple-A Tacoma in James Pazos (acquired in the offseason from the Yankees) and Dillon Overton (acquired in the offseason from the Athletics).

"The group as a whole, I do like it," Servais said. "The power that Pazos brings, I think, is very intriguing. I’m curious to see how this thing plays out. Does Miranda end up in that mix or do we keep him starting?

"That’s something we need to talk about."

Overton has been a starter throughout his three professional seasons but could fill a middle-innings, multiple-outs role similar to how the Mariners used Mike Montgomery and Vidal Nuno in 2016.

Pazos is more of a short reliever who has worked 215 1/3 innings in 151 career minor-league appearances.

"A lot of these guys do have options," Servais said. "It could be mix and match here for a while."

Miranda, Pazos and Overton each have options remaining.

Other bullpen notes:

***Right-hander Dan Altavilla had a rough outing Friday against Texas, when he gave up three runs after walking the first two hitters in his only inning.

"He didn't make a quick-enough adjustment," Servais said. "Actually, it’s good to see that happen in a spring training game. He needs to learn from it. When your fastball-release point isn’t there, what do you do?

"He had the right answer. He said, `I should have gone to my slider.’ You go to your breaking ball, your curveball or slider, it usually gets your hand out in front. It gets you back into the strike zone. Then go back to your fastball after that."

Altavilla is a strong candidate to grab a spot in the bullpen after compiling an 0.73 ERA last season in 15 games after a late August promotion from Double-A Jackson.

***Right-hander Tony Zych reported no day-after problems following Friday’s 25-pitch bullpen workout. It was his second spring bullpen session in his recovery from October surgery for a biceps tendon transfer.

There is no timetable for Zych to get into a game, but a normal progression would include some live batting practice sessions before doing so.

***Right-hander Steve Cishek tested his surgically-repair left hip by playing catch for a second straight day. He isn’t expected to be ready for game action until late March and seems increasingly likely to open the season on the disable list.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners