First baseman Daniel Vogelbach was optioned back to Tacoma, while right-hander Mike Morin was designated for assignment.
Facing a powerful Red Sox lineup for the next four games, the Mariners returned to an eight-man bullpen as expected. They also swapped out middle relievers for the series. Adding two new arms to the bullpen on Thursday afternoon.
- Nick Rumbelow, RHP, recalled from AAA Tacoma.
- Rob Whalen, RHP, recalled from AAA Tacoma.
- Daniel Vogelbach, INF, optioned to AAA Tacoma.
- Mike Morin, RHP, designated for assignment.
“We were going with the seven man ‘pen the last couple of games and we’ve gone into that pretty heavily so we thought it would be good to get some pitching reinforcements here,” manager Scott Servais said. “That’s how we’ll go through the weekend and then see where Juan Nicasio and Nick Vincent are at as they progress in their rehabs. There’s a chance both guys could be back in the early part of the road trip.”
With long reliever Roenis Elias having thrown two innings in Wednesday’s win over the Angels, the Mariners needed another long reliever in case Felix Hernandez, who was scheduled to start on Thursday night, continued to struggle. Whalen was scheduled to start on Thursday for the Rainiers, so he would have a full pitch count to work from. The 24-year-old right-hander posted 7-3 with a 4.50 ERA with 62 strikeouts and 25 walks in 13 starts and 72 innings pitched in Tacoma this season. Over his last seven starts, he is 4-1 with a 3.23 ERA.
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“I’m ready to pitch,” Whalen said. “Hopefully they don’t need, but I’ll be ready. I feel like I’ve been throwing the ball very well of late. I feel like I’ve gotten myself back into a groove where I was a couple years where I was really trusting my stuff again and believing in it.”
Now that he’s healthy and pitching regularly, it was only a matter of time before Rumbelow would join the Mariners bullpen. He was slated to be a there this spring before nerve issues in his neck shut him down. He missed the first two months of the season, rehabbing the injury.
“I’m not even sure of what was going on,” he said of the pain. “But it’s in the past and something I put behind me.”
He’s made three scoreless relief appearances of one inning apiece with Tacoma since returning.
“He’s only had a handful of outings in Triple A,” Servais said. “But everybody has been really excited with what they’ve seen out of him so far. He’s got good stuff — mid-90s fastball, good changeup and a really hard breaking ball. We’re talking about 86-87 mph with it. It’s legit stuff.”
Because Rumbelow is coming back from an injury and hasn’t logged many innings, the Mariners won’t overuse him and try to avoid outings on back-to-back days.
“We’ll be cautious with that,” Servais said. “Ryan Cook hadn’t done a lot of it, but he’s done it here a couple of times and has been fine. It’s part of being on a big league pitching staff is going back to back.”
Vogelbach wasn’t playing much after that start in Tampa, while Morin was out of minor league options and had to be designated for assignment. The Mariners are hoping he clears waivers and can be outrighted to Class AAA Tacoma.
Kyle Seager was back in the lineup on Thursday after being scratched from Wednesday’s game and leaving Safeco Field for personal reasons. Seager’s wife, Julie, is in the final months of pregnancy for their third child. But Seager said everything was okay after a little scare.
The last time a Mariners’ team was 20 games over .500 during a season was on Aug. 24, 2007. Seattle defeated the Texas Rangers, 4-2, on that day in Arlington with Felix Hernandez getting the win and Jose Vidro had a key two-run single. Seattle was one game behind the Angels in the AL West standings. The Mariners then proceeded to lose five straight games, including getting swept by the Angels at Safeco Field. The spiral continued and doomed the season. Seattle lost 15 of 17 games after getting to 20 games over .500.