In the latest episode of “As The Mariners’ Roster Churns,” two more relievers were called up from Class AAA Tacoma, a rookie starting pitcher was optioned back to Tacoma after back-to-back rough outings and an effective veteran left-hander was designated for assignment because his value isn’t truly needed in the bullpen.
And there will be more moves in the coming days with lefty Wade LeBlanc having to be activated from the disabled list on Saturday and third baseman Kyle Seager eligible to return from the disabled list on May 25.
“There will be some turnover on our roster,” manager Scott Servais. “We knew that when the season started. Here we sit in the middle of May and you are starting to see the turnover.”
The official moves:
- Matt Festa, RHP, recalled from AAA Tacoma.
- Ryan Garton, RHP, selected from AAA Tacoma.
- Erik Swanson, RHP, optioned to AAA Tacoma.
- Zac Rosscup, LHP, designated for assignment.
Festa (No. 67) and Garton (No. 58) flew in from Reno where the Rainiers were playing and participated in the pregame work. The Mariners have become quite adept at sending relievers back and forth from their Triple A affiliate over the past few seasons, taking advantage of pitchers with minor league options.
Of the moves, the decision to DFA Rosscup was the most interesting. The 30-year-old lefty was 2-0 with a 3.21 ERA in 19 relief appearances. He struck out 20 and walked 14 in 14 innings pitched. Seattle has seven days to trade, outright or release Rosscup.
“The thought behind that with our bullpen set up the way it is, we don’t really have a spot for him,” Servais said. “Zac really is a left-on-left guy. That’s what he is good at. He’s got the left-handed breaking ball. We aren’t really built that way. We need guy that can go out and pitch for one-plus or two inning outings or even a two-plus inning outing. This isn’t doing him any favors. He’s not built that way. It’s not what he does.”
The decision to option Swanson back to Tacoma was based on his struggles in the past two outings. The rookie right-hander gave up eight runs on four homers on Thursday night in a loss to the Twins. It was the second straight outing where he had struggled.
In seven games (six starts), he was 1-5 with an 8.04 ERA with 24 strikeouts and five walks in 31 1/3 innings pitched. He’ll go back to Tacoma to work on building more consistent command of his fastball and continue to improve on his slider and offspeed pitches.
“We like a lot of things he brings to the table,” Servais said. “It’s just the consistency and the location of his pitches. This gives him an opportunity to kind of regroup. He got hit around a little bit. We saw it last night. He got cornered into some fastball counts and everyone knows it’s his pitch and they got on it.”
Swanson was scheduled to start on Tuesday in Texas. The Mariners haven’t decided on a replacement yet. The internal candidates would be lefties Justus Sheffield and Tommy Milone or right-hander Christian Bergman. They could also have a bullpen start and then reset the rotation with an off day on Thursday.
“It’s still up for discussion,” Servais said. “We’ll look internally.”
Festa, 26, was on the opening day roster and made six appearances, posting a 6.43 ERA before being optioned to Tacoma on April 11. In eight outings with the Rainiers this season, he is 0-1 with a save and a 6.30 ERA. In his last five games with Tacoma, he posted a 1.42 ERA with nine strikeouts, two walks and a .095 (2×21) opponents average against in 6 1/3 innings pitched.
Garton, 29, was 3-0 with a 3.46 ERA with 28 strikeouts and 9 walks in 12 games and 26 innings pitched for the Rainiers. Garton was acquired by the Mariners along with catcher Mike Marjama in exchange for left-hander Anthony Misiewicz, infielder Luis Rengifo and a player to be named later on Aug. 6, 2017. He was re-signed by the Mariners on Oct. 21, 2018 to a minor league contract.