A career-best 2.64 ERA in 2016 from Marc Rzepczynski earned him a two-year, $11 million deal with the Mariners. Despite the improved run prevention, some of the veteran left-handed specialist's peripherals and splits actually took a step backwards last season. Rzepczynski walked 23 out of 102 right-handed batters in 2016, easily the worst walk rate in the majors among pitchers with as many innings as him last year. Of course, Rzepczynski is getting paid for his performance against lefties, but he allowed a .674 OPS against them last year compared to his .589 career mark. On the other hand, he benefited from several peripherals from his bad-luck 2015 coming back down to Earth. His .381 BABIP from 2015 lowered to .333, his 53 percent strand rate reached a healthy 79.9 percent and his 25 percent HR/FB cratered to 3.7 percent. The Mariners will slot him in comfortably as their top left-handed option out of the bullpen, but he remains a specialist aimed solely at left-handed batters without fantasy value.
Rzepczynski surrendered six runs (five earned) on five hits and two wild pitches over one inning in Monday's 14-3 rain-shortened Cactus League loss to the Royals. He struck out two. The southpaw endured a disastrous third inning, opening the frame by throwing a wild pitch on a swinging strikeout by Eric Hosmer, allowing the latter to reach. The very next hitter, Salvador Perez, made him pay with a two-run homer and Peter O'Brien repeated the feat following a Brandon Moss single. An Alcides Escobar triple and a Paulo Orlando infield single were responsible for two more runs later in the frame before Rzepczynski escaped by striking out Lorenzo Cain and Hosmer. It was a dubious debut for one of the Mariners' key offseason pitching acquisitions, especially considering he gave up two round-trippers after surrendering just one over 215 batters faced last season.
Rzepczynski, who signed a two-year, $11 million contract with the Mariners on Dec. 1, will be looked at as the lefty specialist the team's bullpen lacked last season, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports. "That's [going to] help quite a bit," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "With some of the moves in our division, there are more left-handed bats. We were able to kind of maneuver through it last year. We were able to get through it without having a lockdown specialist. But going into the offseason, it was something Jerry (DiPoto, general manager) wanted to address, and we got a pretty good one, there's no doubt." The 31-year-old southpaw has yielded a .222/.291/.298 line to left-handed hitters over his eight-year career, so his track record certainly provides reason for optimism. Rzepczynski also brings a wealth of big-game experience, having won a World Series in St. Louis and pitching in 21 postseason contests overall. However, his ability to get left-handed hitters out consistently and keep the ball in the park are his most appealing traits to the Mariners, which figure to now have more flexibility with the matchups they can set up out of the bullpen. Notably, Rzepczynski gave up just one homer over the 215 batters he faced in 2016, with that round-tripper ironically having come off the bat of new teammate Kyle Seager.
Rzepczynski agreed to a two-year deal with the Mariners on Thursday, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports. Seattle's flurry of offseason moves continued with the addition of Rzepcynski to an already promising bullpen. He should serve as a lefty specialist, as he boasts a 2.59 FIP, 1.08 WHIP and 26.8 percent strikeout rate in 184 career innings against southpaws.
Rzepcyznski has been activated and will be available for Thursday's game against Baltimore, William Ladson of MLB.com reports. The recently acquired Rzepcyznski could potentially make his Nationals debut as soon as Thursday. Rzepcyznski posted a strong 3.00 ERA while with the A's this season, but his 1.72 WHIP could be a concern if he's unable to maintain a strong strand rate. The Nationals optioned Reynaldo Lopez to clear a roster spot for Rzepcyznski.
Rzepcynski had a scoreless outing Wednesday against the Yankees, allowing a hit over 0.2 innings. Rzepcynski has appeared in seven games for the A's so far in 2016 and has yet to allow a run. He has thrown 5.1 innings in those seven appearances, giving up four hits and a walk while punching out three. He will remain one of the A's stalwarts in the backend of the bullpen, usually deployed to retire lefties.