The Mariners made the first of what is expected to be a handful of roster moves over the next week on Wednesday.
The team announced that starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez was optioned to Class AAA Tacoma. Right-handed pitcher Brandon Maurer was recalled from the Rainiers to take his place on the roster.
The decision to send Ramirez to Tacoma wasn’t a shocker. The diminutive right-hander gave the Mariners yet another inconsistent performance in Tuesday night’s 8-2 win over the Red Sox.
Ramirez worked just 41/3 innings, giving up two runs on five hits with five walks and two strikeouts. It was his fifth start since being called up on June 3 where he failed to go more than five innings. In 11 major-league starts this season, he’s 1-4 with a 4.58 earned-run average.
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The corresponding move to call up Maurer might have been surprising to some Mariners fans at first.
But Maurer wasn’t being called up to take Ramirez’s place in the rotation. He was called up to work as a reliever.
So who will take Ramirez’s place in the rotation?
“That move is pending,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “I don’t have it right now.”
It seems by most indications that top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker will make that start on Monday in Houston.
Walker had been pitching on the same schedule as Ramirez with Tacoma for a reason. He was the likely replacement once he built up strength and consistency.
On Tuesday night at Cheney Stadium, Walker threw the first complete game shutout of his career, allowing four hits and striking out seven in a 2-0 win.
“Taijuan threw the ball extremely well,” McClendon said. “That’s very good. I was really happy to hear that. He came through it good and continues to progress. And hopefully he continues to get better.”
After dealing with shoulder issues starting in the offseason and suffering minor setbacks along the way, Walker finally seems to be fully healthy.
The results for Maurer as a reliever have also been encouraging. He’s picked up three saves and has looked relaxed on the mound.
“It gives him less chance to think about things,” McClendon said. “Obviously the velocity is up at the Triple A level, up to 98 out of the bullpen. So that’s intriguing.”
As for other roster moves, outfielder Michael Saunders is expected to be activated and in uniform on Friday. First baseman Justin Smoak (strained quad) and designated hitter Corey Hart (strained hamstring) will continue their rehab assignments with Tacoma.
• With his solo homer on Tuesday night, Mike Zunino became the fifth catcher in Mariners team history to hit 10 home runs before the All-Star break. He came into Wednesday leading all American League catchers in the category with 10. He hit his 11th in the second inning Wednesday.
• Kyle Seager has been sensational at Safeco Field, hitting .328 (42 for 128) with 10 homers and a 1.040 on-base plus slugging percentage. He’s driven in 36 runs in 37 games at Safeco. He leads the American League in home RBI.
Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @RyanDivish