The Wheel is back and it has spoken. Today, we talk about Chris Devenski and his fit with the Seattle Mariners.
The Seattle Mariners are going to add to their bullpen this off-season, this much we know. But we don’t know how high up the reliever ladder they’re going to go. Somewhere in the middle rung lies Houston Astros’ reliever Chris Devenski.
After bursting onto the scene in 2016, Devenski made the 2017 AL All-Star Team and became a stable in the Astros dominant bullpen that would run through the American League for five years straight. Entering 2018, Devenski was riding high off a 2.38 ERA, 2.83 FIP, 9.7 K/9, and a 2.2 BB/9 stretch that lasted 110 appearances.
Unfortunately, Devenski took a sizeable step back in 2018, posting a 4.49 FIP, and continued the downward trend straight into his final year of club control. From 2018-2020, Devenski would post a 4.88 ERA, a 4.63 FIP, and be worth 0.1 fWAR. He would miss almost all of the 2020 season and had a successful operation in mid-September to remove bone spurs from his right elbow.
Devenski is set to earn $2.1 million in arbitration this year, but the Astros may not be willing to shell out $2 million for a reliever who hasn’t been good in three years. It’s also possible they could dangle Devenski and pick up an interesting lottery ticket, something the depleted Astros farm system could use.
At his best, Devenski has a devastating changeup that, even in bad seasons, generates whiff rates of over 40%. His slider has also been particularly devastating for large chunks of his career and his fastball spin rate was in the 73rd percentile in 2019. The fastball sits 94 MPH and Devenski uses it to set up his vastly superior changeup.
When he’s on, Devenski is a 3-pitch reliever who can get through a lineup 1.5 times on a regular basis. His health will be the key factor in any team, include the Astros, deciding whether or not to pursue a relationship with him for the 2021 season. He’s a good “buy low” candidate who adds the possibility of lengthening out the bullpen, but questions will need to be answered before he is to be relied upon in high-leverage situations.