The Mariners won’t go to a six-man starting rotation … for now. That could always change based on pitcher health, performance or the expected call-up of prospect Justin Dunn in early September.
But for now, Seattle’s starting rotation will consist of Justus Sheffield, Felix Hernandez, Marco Gonzales, Tommy Milone and Yusei Kikuchi. Left-hander Wade LeBlanc has been moved to the bullpen.
“Wade will slide into the bullpen and we’ll go with a five-man rotation at that point,” manager Scott Servais said before Friday’s game. “He can give us multiple innings. That will kind of be his role. We won’t use him tonight, but I will need him tomorrow.”
LeBlanc is 6-7 with a 5.52 earned-run average this season. He has extensive experience pitching in the long-relief role in his career.
The Mariners officially recalled Sheffield from Class AA Arkansas on Friday afternoon to make the start later that evening against the Blue Jays. He took the 25-man roster spot of right-hander reliever Cory Gearrin, who was claimed off waivers by the Yankees. Gearrin made 48 appearances this season, posting a 0-2 record with a 3.92 ERA.
“It’s a good opportunity for Cory,” Servais said. “Obviously the Yankees are in a good spot in their division standings. We’ll see him here in a few days for them.”
The Mariners will have to make another roster move Saturday to activate Hernandez from the injured list and open a spot on the roster.
With LeBlanc in the bullpen, Servais slotted out the rest of the rotation, setting up some highly interesting pitching matchups in the upcoming series with the Yankees.
Left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, who had his start skipped Friday after throwing a 98-pitch shutout against the Blue Jays on Sunday, will return to the mound Tuesday night. In a matchup that will make headlines in Japan, the Yankees will start right-hander Masahiro Tanaka.
Servais usually has his rotation and the opposing pitchers slotted out on the big calendar whiteboard on his office wall. But he didn’t put Kikuchi’s name next to Tanaka. He wanted to tell the Japanese media himself.
“The first thing they always do is look at the board,” he said chuckling. “I said, ‘I’m not writing it up there, I’m saying it myself.'”
Seattle’s rotation will turn over Wednesday, meaning Sheffield will return to the mound to face his old team and lefty James Paxton. Sheffield was the key piece in the package of three players that New York sent to Seattle in exchange for Paxton.
Bradford undergoes elbow surgery
Right-handed reliever Chasen Bradford walked into the Mariners clubhouse with his right arm heavily bandaged and in a sling. It’s the result of undergoing surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament and remove a bone spur in his elbow. Bradford flew to New York and had the procedure done Thursday by Dr. David Altchek.
Bradford had been on the injured list since June 3 with a forearm strain. Despite months of daily treatment, the elbow never got any better. There was some confusion as to what was causing the discomfort and lack of strength in the forearm.
“They didn’t really know what it was until they got in there to check it out,” Bradford said. “It was frustrating and the anxiety was building up. It was like, ‘What’s going on?’ We had been following the protocols and nothing was coming out of it. To finally get it over with, now I can focus on getting back to where I was before.”
- Mitch Haniger has been dealing with some back discomfort, which has forced him to miss his past two games in his rehab stint with Class AAA Tacoma. Haniger dealt with similar back issues this spring. Servais said that team doctors were going to check Haniger’s back as a precaution.
- Austin Adams (shoulder strain) pitched a scoreless inning for Tacoma in the first outing of his rehab stint. He’s expected to make one more appearance with the Rainiers and then have his rehab stint transferred to Class AA Arkansas. He will make at least two appearances with the Travelers and possible rejoin the Mariners on the upcoming road trip which starts in Texas.
- Brandon Brennan (shoulder fatigue) threw a bullpen session Friday afternoon. He should be ready to go when he’s eligible to come off the injured list.
- Braden Bishop (lacerated spleen) will have his rehab stint transferred from High-A Modesto to Tacoma. He’ll join the Rainiers to close out the minor-league season.