The Mariners have placed right-hander Penn Murfee on the 15-day injured list due to right elbow inflammation, according to Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times (Twitter link). Right-hander Juan Then is being called up from Double-A in the corresponding move, and Then’s first appearance will mark his MLB debut.
Murfee made his own Major League debut in 2022 and immediately contributed to Seattle’s bullpen, posting a 2.99 ERA over 69 1/3 innings. Murfee’s strikeout and walk rates were well above average, and he was one of the league’s best at inducing soft contact. The overall results have improved this season as per Murfee’s 1.38 ERA over 15 innings, except with the red flag of a drastically inflated 16.7% walk rate. A tiny .143 BABIP has certainly helped Murfee avoid much damage, though his SIERA is 4.52.
Walks have been a problem for the Mariners’ bullpen as a whole this season, even though the relief corps has still been quite solid overall. However, it isn’t good news that the M’s are now missing two notable relievers in Murfee and Andres Munoz, who has spent close to a month on the 15-day IL due to a right deltoid strain that seems to be a bit more troublesome than initially anticipated. For what it’s worth, Murfee’s elbow inflammation also seems relatively minor, as Divish tweets that the Mariners were hoping he could avoid an IL trip altogether.
Then was added to Seattle’s 40-man roster back in November, protecting righty from selection in the Rule 5 Draft. Then was an international signing for the Mariners in 2016, and after being traded to the Yankees in November 2017, was re-acquired as part of the Edwin Encarnacion trade in June 2019. Once the 2019 season was complete, things started to go sideways for Then, who (like all minor leaguers) lost the 2020 season to the pandemic, and then struggled through two injury-shortened seasons at the high-A and Double-A levels in 2021 and 2022.
MLB Pipeline ranks Then 23rd on their list of the Mariners’ top 30 prospects, noting that his performance in the Arizona Fall League merited a return to the ranking and apparently indicated that his elbow problems were behind him. Back at Double-A this season, Then has a 27.5% strikeout rate and 7.5% walk rate over nine innings of work, but also a 5.00 ERA.
To this end, promoting Then to the majors and skipping Triple-A entirely seems like an aggressive move for the Mariners, based both on results and the fact that Then has pitched only 30 total innings (counting AFL and Dominican Winter League work) since the start of the 2022 season. It could be that the M’s might be viewing Then as just a short-term add before figuring out a 40-man roster opening to accommodate another pitcher.
“When will Then be now?”
No great loss.
I was not impressed.
While Penn Murfee doesn’t posses a “heavy FB” or high end velo he does posses one of THE best sliders in MLB. That pitch has some of THE best stuff+ numbers in the Minors. Its been no different in the Majors Leagues. If the Mariners didn’t have 3 Pitchers with sub 2:00 ERA’s in Topa, Gott and Speier Murfee’s numbers would stand out more. Speaking of those 3- its high time Dipoto was recognized for his ability to build one of THE best BPs in baseball for 3 straight seasons. This year SEA has the 2nd best BP despite losing their best RP Andres Muñoz and former Rays closer Diego Castillo.
Nearly every manager in Baseball would jump at the opportunity to have ‘a Penn’ in their pen! A 2.99 ERA last yr and a 1.38 ERA in 16 ip this year- those are fantastic numbers from a guy who has at least 5 RPers (Brash, Sewald, Speier, Topa + Gott) being used ahead of him in high leverage situations this yr.
Good to see you, ayrbhoy.
And you sir! I Don’t mean to come across as being punchy with my retort, think of my reply as one that is delivered with a smile while sitting down with a frosty cold one. Maybe on a floor littered with empty peanut shells?
“You’re gonna need a pitcher.”
“We’ll just take Juan Then.”
deGrom Texas Ranger
They took a hit to their bull Penn.
I know you’re going for a chuckle with your wordplay there. However the context of your attempt at humor could not be farther from the truth. That is, one of the most impressive things about the Seattle BP this year is that for the 3rd year running the SEA Pen is one the best in Baseball despite turnover in each of the 3 seasons. This year the SEA pen has the 2nd lowest ERA, its at least Top 3 if not 1st in FIP and WAR. Thats after losing one of our best RPer in A Muñoz and 2 high leverage guys in E Swanson and Diego Castillo.
Over the last 2 off-seasons much has been made about how SEA’s BP success cannot be sustained because of the fickle nature of RPers. This year our 3 newest RPers added have quickly become high leverage RPers that Servais trusts. LHRP Speier has a sub 1.00 ERA and both Topa and Gott are sub 2.00 ERA’s.
deGrom Texas Ranger
I was just commenting on his stats this year. Even if Seattle has an elite bullpen, I’m sure losing him is still a hit to any MLB team. A 1.38 ERA guy, regardless of how unstainable it may be due to peripheral stats, should be in high demand.
Good point dGTR and congrats on your hard fought series win over ‘my M’s.’ Our Pitching Staff gave you probably your most difficult 3g stretch this yr. Our lineup needs to stop chasing bad pitches. Teo and Julio are esp easy to pitch to when they chase sweeping sliders and high FB’s. I’m looking fwd to our next matchup- you’ll have Seager and we’ll hopefully be chasing less by then
deGrom Texas Ranger
Thanks! Yeah. I was hoping for Julio Rodriguez to have a good game and everyone else on the Ms to do badly, as I have JRod on my fantasy team. Of course, the only thing better than him performing well is Texas performing well. All these injuries are annoying, and I wish teams would be less overprotective of their pitchers. They should have NFL-like contracts that aren’t 100% guaranteed. I do think that Houston wins the division once they get Altuve and their magic on pitchers starts working, but Seattle is probably a much bigger threat than LA. That’s why I take these Seattle and Houston games more seriously than the LA games.
Happy 92nd birthday to number 24, the Say Hey Kid!
Gday mate! Let’s get RRS out of the booth to replace him
Juan Then. Juan Now.
Sean The Trucker
I like Penn Murfee, but Then again, it will be interesting to see what Juan has.
Then to the Pen, Penn on the Mend… what will become of either of them?
Penn? Only time will Teller.
“To this end, promoting Then to the majors and skipping Triple-A entirely seems like an aggressive move for the Mariners”
Dipoto and Hollander have shown they prefer to avoid having any pitching prospects of merit spend significant time in the hitter-friendly PCL.
Gilbert (5 IP) and Kirby (2 IP) only appeared as fill-ins, Brash spent all of 26 innings there, and Miller skipped AAA entirely. Juan Then obviously doesn’t come with the same prospect status, but if they have a plan for him, it makes sense they would avoid sending him there, too.
Lots of teams have their best prospects at AA.
Sure, but not all skip AAA entirely. Just clarifying that this isn’t an unusual practice for the M’s like the post made it seem.
“Then”? “Then” what!? Tell me! I must know!
I’ve seen Juan Gone and Juan Then is at best now and then.
Now .and Then you have to explore other possibilities what sometimes seems like loss can be an opportunity that pays dividends.