Whalen was acquired along with right-hander Max Povse in November 2016 in a deal that sent former sixth overall pick in 2014, Alex Jackson (C/OF) to the Braves – one of several off-season acquisitions that Mariners general manager Jerry DiPoto made to bolster the M’s pitching depth.
Whalen has a repeatable delivery with moderate effort from a 3/4’s arm slot and finishes in an athletic fielding position. He also showed some feel for sequencing and changing hitter’s eye level. He displays a four-seam fastball that sits 89-to-92 mph (T93) that, despite a lack of plus velocity, he does a nice job of challenging hitter’s both up in the zone, and on the inner half of the plate.
Whalen’s slider sat 81-to-83 mph, but it tended to stay flat. During this viewing he left the pitch up in the zone and over the plate several times, but was lucky enough to escape with little damage done. Having said that, he does a good job of controlling the slider, but he does need to improve his command, both inside the strike zone and for put-away. The curveball was Whalen’s best secondary offering with 12-to-6 shape and sharp bite when he used it as an out-pitch. It sat 74-to-76 mph with good depth, and he also used the pitch as a get-me-over offering early in the count as well. Whalen also displayed a changeup at 82-to-84 mph, but was used mostly on the outer half of the plate versus lefties to get ahead. At times the pitch had some arm-side fade, but it lacked consistent movement. He doesn’t seem to have much confidence in his changeup, given how seldom it’s used.
Whalen spent most of the first month on the DL with a right shoulder inflammation, so one could assume the M’s want him to build up his innings count should they need him as a starter, given the recent slew of injuries to their major league staff. He has a ceiling as a fourth or fifth starter, but it’s more likely he becomes a spot-starter or long-relief guy.