The Seattle Mariners made their first acquisition in a while, claiming RHP Brady Lail from the White Sox. Lail is 27-years-old and spent most of his career in the Yankees organization.
Lail has just four innings pitched in the big leagues, so the sample size isn’t large enough to draw any conclusions, but we have learned a bit about what Lail brings to the table. He was primarily used as a starter from 2013-2017 and this might explain his Arsenal of pitches.
Lail has a 4 pitch mix that includes a fastball that sits 88-91 MPH. He backs it up with a curveball, a slider, and a changeup. None of the offerings are plus pitches and his command is 45-grade. Because of this lack of upside, Lail was moved to the bullpen, and though he doesn’t have typical 2020 bullpen stuff, he did see his K/9 numbers jump to over a strikeout per inning.
Lail’s most promising pitch is probably his slider, which sports slightly above-average spin rates. The pitch shows good horizontal movement, but very little vertical break, leading it to be classified as a cutter at times. Lail’s best pitch in his extremely limited MLB time has been his changeup.
The fastball lacks and life at the top of the zone and the curveball is below-par. He doesn’t have pinpoint command, but throws enough strikes to make use of his limited stuff. Lail has been nipped by the home run ball in the high minors, largely due to his mediocre stuff and command.
Our best guess on the Mariners plan is similar to the plan they’ve used on other arms: tweak the pitch mix and sharpen or add a cutter. The Mariners love of the cutter goes back to the Rick Adair days and we’ve seen them continue to push it with Yusei Kikuchi and Taijuan Walker. Lail has the slider that looks as flat as a cutter, so that is a decent place to start.
The changeup is likely the pitch Seattle will ask Lail to use more, something they did with Brandon Brennan last year.
Ultimately, this is a true dart throw. Lail has 3 option years left and does give Seattle some rotation or bullpen depth for 2020. It’s not a earth shattering acquisition but at the cost of Patrick Wisdom, it’s well worth the gamble.