The Mariners’ bullpen allowed 13 earned runs in 16 2/3 innings in the first three games of this weekend’s series against the Minnesota Twins.
To quote Mariners manager Scott Servais, “Obviously our bullpen has been getting hammered here the last couple days.”
A change needed to be made.
And so it has.
General manager Jerry Dipoto announced prior to Sunday’s game that reliever David McKay has been recalled from Class AAA Tacoma, while pitcher Mike Wright has been designated for assignment. The 24-year-old McKay was 2-0 with a 5.91 ERA in 14 relief appearances in Tacoma, though 11 of the 14 runs he allowed this season came in just three of those outings. Discounting those three appearances, McKay has gone 2-0 with a more respectable 1.42 ERA.
In six spring training games, McKay was 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA, allowing two earned runs in six innings while striking out seven.
“He’s still inexperienced,” Servais said of McKay prior to Sunday’s series finale. “We have a lot of inexperience down in the bullpen. But he had a pretty good spring training. He does it a little bit differently. He has a decent breaking ball. He’ll pitch up in the zone with the fastball. He has thrown strikes, so we’ll see if we need him today.”
One thing is clear: This Mariners pitching staff needs something, anything, to reverse its recent regression.
And Servais will continue to search for answers to the Mariners’ prolific pitching woes.
“You’ve got to continue to talk to the group,” Servais said. “We don’t just show up. We try to make adjustments and have a plan going forward. When you run into teams that are hot — certainly the Twins are swinging the bats really well right now — you’ve got to make some adjustments pitching-wise.
“Sometimes it’s the actual pitches you’re throwing. Sometimes it’s mental; how you’re attacking them. So we’ve got to try to make some adjustments today and get back on track.”
That’s easier said than done for a team that has lost three consecutive games and owns just a 5-12 record in May.
But the first adjustments need to be made on the mound.
“Pitchers – relievers, certainly – all have their certain style of how they’re going to attack hitters,” Servais said. “But you have to attack. You have to stay on the attack and be the aggressor on the mound. I haven’t felt that we’ve done that.
“We’ve gotten in some bad counts. You have to give in, get the ball over the plate. They have a lot of power. It hasn’t resulted very well for us. So we’ll continue to talk about it and make adjustments.”
Murphy seizes the moment
Only one Mariners pitcher did not allow a run in Saturday’s 18-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
And he’s not even a pitcher.
Catcher Tom Murphy retired all three hitters he faced in the ninth inning, striking out two. The 28-year-old veteran displayed a 90 mph fastball and a surprisingly effective slider as well.
“We’ve got the position player pitching thing covered right now,” Servais joked. “Murph’s been very good. Hopefully we won’t have to see him a whole lot more, but the impressive overlays I saw on the internet were … it was pretty good.”
In his first season with the Mariners, Murphy is hitting .283 with two homers and four RBI in 15 games.
But he appears to be more versatile than Servais — or anyone else — expected.
“Murph has not played a lot of other positions. He’s always been a catcher,” Servais said. “He did a good job (pitching). We threw him out there a couple weeks ago. He knew what was coming last night.
“He didn’t break out the breaking ball the last time out so the Twins didn’t know he had that in his bag. But he wasn’t afraid last night.”