The morning after Wednesday’s frustrating late-inning implosion in a loss to the Houston Astros somehow felt worse for the Mariners.
It wasn’t the lingering regrets over all that went wrong in blowing a three-run lead. No, it was something much worse. It was the news that they will be without their best starting pitcher for at least two to three weeks.
During his video media session before Thursday’s series finale against the Astros in Houston, Mariners manager Scott Servais announced that left-hander Marco Gonzales was being placed on the 10-day injured list because of a left-forearm strain.
“Coming out of the start the other night, Marco felt a little soreness/tightness in his left forearm,” Servais said. “We were able to get him an MRI (on Wednesday). He does have a mild strain in his forearm, so he’s going to miss at least a couple starts. Fortunately it’s not too serious, but it’s something that we want to stay out ahead of.”
The Mariners recalled right-handed reliever Domingo Tapia off the taxi squad to take Gonzales’ place on the 25-man roster.
Gonzales pitched six innings, allowing two runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts in a 2-0 loss Tuesday. He has a 1-3 record and a 5.40 ERA in five starts this season. But in his past three starts, including the past two in which Seattle was shut out, he has a 2.50 ERA.
Was Gonzales dealing with a forearm issue in the first two starts he struggled?
“No, it really hasn’t been anything lingering, (it) just came up after the game,” Servais said. “He said he felt it on his last inning out through the other night. I knew nothing about it during the game about that. It was after the game. Talking to the trainer and talking to him, I thought it was something he should get checked on.”
Gonzales joins lefties James Paxton (Tommy John surgery) and Nick Margevicius (left-shoulder strain) on the injured list. The Mariners’ six-man rotation is down to four original members — Yusei Kikuchi, Justus Sheffield, Justin Dunn and Chris Flexen — from the opening-day roster.
Ljay Newsome has replaced Margevicius, who replaced Paxton. So who will replace Gonzales?
Many fans want it to be top pitching prospect Logan Gilbert, who is currently en route to Tacoma to start the Triple-A season on May 6 with the Rainiers.
Gilbert recently threw 74 pitches in a minor-league spring-training game. That means his pitch count has been built up to a decent level. But the quantity doesn’t necessarily matter as much of the quality of pitches in terms of execution and intensity needed and expected to have success at the MLB level.
The Mariners had planned to give Gilbert a slow buildup to his MLB debut. With no minor-league season in 2020, the hope was to get him at least five and closer to 10 starts with Tacoma before bringing him up. They also want to control his innings total to allow him to pitch at the MLB level in September. It’s much easier to do that at the minor-league level.
If the Mariners choose to go another route, they could consider right-handers Jimmy Yacabonis or Robert Dugger.
- Servais held outfielder Mitch Haniger out of the lineup for a second consecutive game. Haniger felt overall fatigue entering Wednesday’s game and was scratched then.
With a day game after a night game, Servais decided to rest Haniger in hopes of playing him all weekend vs. the Angels.
“Mitch is feeling better today,” Servais said. “Again, this is my call. If it were up to Mitch, he would want to be in there. But I’m not doing that quick turnaround after last night.”
With Haniger missing essentially two seasons due to multiple surgeries, the Mariners said they wouldn’t push him too hard early in the season.
“I will say if we were playing in the playoffs today, he would be in the lineup,” Servais said. “We’re not. We have a lot of games ahead of us. This is a guy coming off a major injury, missing so much time, and I said really from the outset of the season that we were going to be very cautious with this. And when he needs a day or a couple days off, we’re going to give it to him. And that’s where we’re at right now.”
- As part of outfielder Kyle Lewis’ return to full-time playing status following a lengthy stint on the injured list because of a bone bruise in his knee, he was out of the lineup for Thursday’s game.
The Mariners have opted not to play him on day games after night games as part of his return.
“I think once we get off this road trip and get back into the homestand, now you’ll see him start to play more consistently as far as running him out there three, four days in a row, and then maybe a DH day,” Servais said. “We knew that going into this road trip that we’re going to be cautious with his buildup.”