Recalling right-hander and promoting Danny Hultzen from Class AA Jackson to Tacoma could energize franchise.
When you’re rebuilding, the sores reopen quickly. Emotions oscillate from the unbridled joy of Friday night to the sobering silence of Sunday afternoon.
Hitting woes that seemed to lift like late morning fog on the recent trip return with vengeance in the first three games of this extended homestand.
And after Friday’s near-flawless performance by Kevin Millwood and Co., the starting pitching raises new questions and concerns in these final two games against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Such is the pain of rebuilding. The step backward after the two steps forward.
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Sunday’s sleepy 8-2 loss to the Dodgers was over early. One pitch — a poorly located 3-2 fastball from struggling Mariners starter Blake Beavan that Andre Ethier drove deep into the right-field seats for a second-inning grand slam — made the rest of the slow-moving day feel like a celebration of Dodger blue.
As Ethier broke into his home-run trot the cheers were so loud, Safeco Field sounded like Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles was ahead 6-1 and you almost expected those fans would demand a curtain call.
Here’s the line on Blake Beavan: 2 innings pitched, five hits, six runs, six earned runs, two walks, no strikeouts.
“He’s losing his arm slot a little bit,” manager Eric Wedge said of Beavan. “Just having trouble with his fastball command. Working behind and then having to come in. His secondary stuff is kind of hit and miss right now.”
This was the worst of three consecutive bad starts for Beavan, who has allowed 17 earned runs in his last 13 innings and has surrendered 23 hits. Beavan has allowed four home runs in his past two starts.
After 12 starts in his first full season in the majors, he is 3-6, with a 5.92 earned-run average.
It’s time for a change.
And Erasmo Ramirez is ready.
“There’s nothing going on with anything right now,” Wedge said when asked if Beavan might be removed from the rotation. “We don’t make any rash decisions like that. He (Beavan) is a young pitcher. He’s had some success up here. He’s a guy who knows what he needs to do to be successful. He’s proven that that will work up here. But he has to get back to doing that.”
Maybe the Mariners view recalling Ramirez as a Band-Aid fix. Maybe they’re viewing this season as some kind of holding pattern, waiting for all of the talented arms at Class AA Jackson to mature. Maybe they just want to give Beavan more time.
But I think recalling Ramirez would be a positive step on the road to rebuilding. He is as serious a part of their pitching future as Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker are at Jackson.
Ramirez is big-league ready. He proved that in his cameo appearances, working out of the bullpen in April for the Mariners. He is a control pitcher, who can also spin the dials of the Jugs gun up to 95 miles an hour. He’s only 22, but he’s wise beyond his years.
The Mariners sent him to Tacoma in early May to stretch him out and prepare him to be a starter. He is 3-2 in seven starts, with a 3.11 earned-run average. He took a no-hitter into the eighth inning of his last start and he’s strung together three consecutive quality starts.
Why not recall him and promote Hultzen, who has a 1.28 earned-run average and pitched eight shutout innings in his last start, to Tacoma. At the very least it would generate some new excitement along the I-5 corridor.
Beavan, 23, has had his moments on the mound for the Mariners. But in the long term he is more of a No. 5 starter on a team that is busting at the seams with promising ones, twos and threes.
After Sunday’s loss, he sounded as if he were trying to convince himself that everything was going to be fine.
“I don’t think I’m making that bad of pitches,” he said. “I think it’s just kind of bad luck right now. (The) last two games I thought I made a lot of good pitches. I gave up a few runs on good pitches.”
These past two days have felt like small hiccups in an otherwise optimistic run for the Mariners. But they need to keep tweaking their roster, looking for answers.
Ramirez is ready. He should be next.
Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or firstname.lastname@example.org.