Both Taijuan Walker and Mike Montgomery might be in jeopardy of going past desired number of innings
It’s nearing that time of year where the workload of the Mariners’ young starting pitchers, specifically Taijuan Walker and Mike Montgomery, start to become a concern for manager Lloyd McClendon and general manager Jack Zduriencik.
“I’m not comfortable,” McClendon said. “I guess that’s the best way I can answer that.”
Walker has made 22 starts in his first full season at the big-league level, throwing 129 innings. Montgomery has made 13 starts and thrown 801/3 innings. If you add that to the nine starts and 53 innings with Class AAA Tacoma, he’s at 1331/3 innings.
The general rule for pitchers under age 25 is to not allow them to throw more than 30 innings over what they threw the season before. Despite being 26, Montgomery falls into that category — at least according to McClendon. And not all innings are equal.
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“Stress is a factor and innings at this level are a lot more stressful than AA or AAA,” McClendon said.
In an injury-truncated 2014, Walker threw 129 innings (38 at the MLB level and 91 in the minors). Walker did throw 1561/3 innings in 2013 — 1411/3 in the minors and 15 in the majors for a career high.
Montgomery threw 126 innings last season for Class AAA Durham in the Rays’ organization. Montgomery’s career high came in 2011 when he threw 1502/3 innings for AAA Omaha in the Royals organization.
Both Walker and Montgomery could make eight more starts before the season ends. Even at an average of six innings, that would be 48 innings added to their totals. It’s certainly possible that either or both could be skipped or pushed back and being shut down in late September might even be a possibility.
“My responsibility to Taijuan Walker and to the organization is to make sure we keep our pitchers as healthy as we possibly can,” McClendon said. “And being mindful of his innings is part of that process.”
McClendon won’t go to a six-man rotation and cost Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma starts. A modified six-man rotation could be done, but it causes logistical issues as well.
“We’ll do what’s best for each individual pitcher,” McClendon said.
• McClendon said Vidal Nuno would remain in the starting rotation for at least another start. The Mariners are not ready to call up left-hander Roenis Elias yet because of his struggles in Tacoma. Since being optioned to the Rainiers, Elias is 1-1 in seven starts with an 8.02 ERA.
• Joe Beimel was unavailable for the second consecutive game because of overuse. Beimel was supposed to be unavailable Saturday, but when Rob Rasmussen imploded in the 11th inning, Beimel took the ball without complaint. Beimel said he was hurting Sunday and couldn’t even pinpoint where exactly his elbow hurt because it was sore all over.
• Brad Miller did a workout in center field with coach Andy Van Slyke before batting practice. It seems likely he’ll start there in one of the two remaining games with the Orioles with right-handers slated to start both games.
• Charlie Furbush threw 40 pitches in his bullpen session. He said his velocity was better.