Nick Vincent may have the quietest 2.94 career ERA in recent memory, proving that sometimes it can be OK to have two first names. Despite falling off in 2016, the right-hander saved three games and sustained excellent command peripherals (9.7 K/9, 2.2 BB/9). The soft-tosser can get away with his high flyball percentages for home games at Safeco Field, but probably will feel the pain in other locales. Either way, his deception (13.3 percent swinging-strike rate last year) and aggressiveness (69.2 percent first-strike percentage) will keep him in high-leverage relief roles. He'll see the occasional save opportunity, though it's hard to envision him overtaking a healthy Edwin Diaz on a regular basis. He just doesn't have the overpowering stuff to favor as a permanent closer in a fully healthy bullpen. Also, Seattle will prefer to deploy him in a pinch, whenever that may be, to put fires out before the closer comes in.
Vincent, who generated a 9.00 ERA and surrendered five home runs this spring, has shown marked improvement since the beginning of the regular season, Ryan Divish of The Seattle Times reports. Vincent's struggles were the subject of some hand-wringing during a rough nine-appearance spring stint, but manager Scott Servais never seemed to lose faith in his veteran right-hander. As he did in the case of Vincent's bullpen mate, Marc Rzepzcynski, Servais declared the thin air of the Cactus League as a major culprit for the unsightly numbers. The 30-year-old has largely validated his manager's confidence thus far in the regular season, firing 4.1 scoreless innings across his last four appearances heading into Thursday night's game versus the Athletics. "He's making pitches and expanding the strike zone," Servais said. "I don't know how he does it. There's some deception in there and the late movement and the cutter has been really effective for him. Early in the year, he struggled a little bit with the lefties like last year. But he's made some adjustments and he's getting through those guys pretty well."
Vincent pitched a scoreless ninth inning in Saturday's 5-0 win over the Rangers, striking out the side. Vincent needed only 13 pitches to dispose of Delino DeShields, Carlos Gomez and Elvis Andrus and close out a masterful performance by starter James Paxton. It was the second consecutive three-strikeout appearance by the 30-year-old reliever after giving up three earned runs over his first three appearances of the season. Vincent brings plenty of strikeout upside, as already evidenced in the early going this season and by his 233 whiffs over 217 career innings.
Vincent fired two scoreless innings in Wednesday's 5-3 extra-inning loss to the Astros, giving up two hits. The 30-year-old racked up 17 holds over 60 appearances last season and has already been deployed twice in the first three games of 2017. It was an encouraging outing for Vincent, who endured a rough spring in which he gave up 10 runs (eight earned) over eight innings across nine appearances -- leading to a 9.00 ERA and .324 BAA -- and who surrendered an earned run in two-thirds of an inning on Opening Day.
Vincent, who's given up five home runs in 5.2 innings this spring, retains the confidence of manager Scott Servais, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports. "I'm anxious to get him out of this environment. It's tough for him and how he pitches. He pitches up in the zone and is a flyball pitcher. It hasn't worked out so great for him this spring. But he's healthy, he feels fine." Vincent tends to give up plenty of flyballs and sported the worst HR/9 rate of his career last season (1.64), but the Mariners remain confident in their 30-year-old reliever. The dry air typically present in Cactus League games has not done Vincent any favors this spring, as he's seen the ball leave the yard in five of his six appearances thus far. However, he's being counted on as a key bullpen piece after amassing 17 holds and three saves over 60.3 innings last season, his first in Seattle.
Vincent agreed to a one-year deal with the Mariners on Friday, avoiding arbitration, MLB.com's Greg Johns reports. This is his first year as an arbitration-eligible player. The terms of the agreement were not announced. Vincent should spend most of the season working in the 7th and 8th innings.
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