I listened to my first Mariners game of the year on Sunday, which was awesome. The first action I catch is always soothing and refreshing to my baseball-starved ears. It was even nicer that the Mariners battered an aged Freddy Garcia and dispatched the Padres handily.
I also caught some of the pre-game show, where Rick Rizzs asked Eric Wedge about Saturday's ballgame. In particular, he asked about the pitchers, which included Taijuan Walker and Danny Hultzen looking quite good, not to mention starting rotation candidate Blake Beavan rolling out a new-look windup with success.
Yet the pitcher that Wedge described as most impressive was Kameron Loe. I'm dead serious. Wedge couldn't get enough of the action on Loe's sinker. Wedge talked about that more than Hultzen throwing seven pitches (all strikes) in an inning of work that included two strikeouts. He about talked about Loe's sinker more than the easy 97 miles per hour that Walker popped on the radar gun.
Loe is a non-roster invitee with a career 4.36 ERA. He had a fairly unimpressive 2012 campaign in Milwaukee, hence the lack of MLB deals he had to choose from. He looked to me like a guy that would survive multiple rounds of roster cuts but end up in Tacoma as pitching depth. Wedge seems to really like Loe though, and I will say that his ERA last year got inflated by an unsustainable 18.0% HR/FB rate
We are extremely early in spring training, but I was struck by how Wedge talked about Loe. It sure sounds like Loe has a real chance to make the Mariners. I'd even venture to say he has a job to lose at this point.
The bullpen already looked set to me, if not a bit crowded, even without considering Loe. Perhaps Stephen Pryor or Lucas Luetge find themselves in Tacoma now. Maybe a guy like Yoervis Medina gets booted off the 40-man roster. These aren't huge moves, but they are the kind of things that feel significant in the context of largely anonymous players finishing out meaningless innings in exhibition.
Wedge seems pretty impressed with Loe from what I heard on the radio, for better or worse. Either that or perhaps Loe is using his pet snake to threaten his way onto the opening day roster. Kameron Loe is officially a spring training story, one way or another.