Question 2: Can the bullpen be dominant again?
A good bullpen is a major key to success, just ask the Kansas City Royals. Dipoto has wasted no time adding a pair of relievers via trade, most notably Joaquin Benoit, trying to improve a Seattle Mariners bullpen that was not very good in 2015. The Seattle bullpen ranked 12 out of 15 AL teams in bullpen ERA at 4.15 while having a combined 21-36 record.
The last two Seattle Mariners teams that exceeded expectations had some of the best bullpens in the American League. In 2014 the M’s had the best bullpen ERA in the AL at 2.59. In 2012, they had the fifth best in the AL at 3.39.
The Mariners now have three relievers that have saved multiple games at the major league level in Carson Smith, Tom Wilhelmsen and Benoit. Smith had a great 2015 until he faded down the stretch after being overused for much of the year. Wilhelmsen was a dominant closer in 2012, saving 29 games before losing his closer job in 2013 before coming back strong the last two seasons.
Other options in the bullpen are Charlie Furbush who struggled through injuries in 2015. He should be back strong in 2016 and be the best lefty in the pen. Dipoto is going to continue to work on the bullpen and Mark Lowe is a possibility to be brought back to Seattle after a strong 2015 season. Lowe was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays at last year’s trade deadline, but is a free agent this offseason and loves pitching in Seattle.
As the last several seasons have proved not only in Seattle but around the league, your team is only as good as your bullpen.