According to UT-San Diego’s Jeff Sanders, Maurer has typically relied on five pitches: a four-seam fastball that flirts with 95 mph, a slider that routinely hits 90 mph, a sinker, a circle change up and an occasional curveball.
Maurer, 24, who was a 23rd round pick out high school, split time with the Mariners and the Triple-A Tacoma Rainers in 2014.
Last year with the Mariners, he went 1-4 with 4.65 ERA over 38 games, which included seven starts. In 2013, Maurer was 5-8 with a 6.30 ERA in 22 games, including 14 starts.
After being sent down to Tacoma last year, Maurer, pitching out the pen, went 1-0 with a 2.79 ERA and three saves. He struck out 24 batters in 19.1 innings.
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After his recall to Seattle at the end of June, and regulated to the bullpen, Maurer posted a 2.36 ERA in 29 games, and held opposing hitters to a .226/.252/.308 batting line.
Maurer strikeout ratios also improved; he averaged 9.2 pitching in relief, compared to 4.7 as a starter.
Sanders seems to think, that just by working Darren Balsley, that the Padres pitching coach could possibly resurrect Maurer’s career, similar to the coach’s work Tyson Ross. Pitching at Petco Park won’t hurt either.
Currently, it seems most Padres’ brass see Maurer’s value coming out of the bullpen, potentially as a seventh or eighth inning set-up man.
While the move was heralded as salary dump, the truth is the move wasn’t much of a dump, plain and simple. Smith was set to make $6 million in 2015. Will Venable, who is still on the roster for unknown reasons, will make $4,250,000 in 2015.
Smith certainly would have provided value as a lefty in the lineup, as well as being able to play solid defense in both left and right field. I’m guessing no one had much interest in Venable, especially Seattle, after he managed to hit .224 in 146 games, which went along nicely with his eight home runs, 33 RBIs and .288 OBP. The only positive about Venable is he can play all three outfield positions well. However, last year, Venable spent more time hurting the team than he did helping them.
As for Maurer, pitchers and catchers report on February 19, with workouts beginning the next day, and most of this will be sorted out over the first three weeks of Spring training. If Maurer makes the big team, plan on it being as a reliever.